Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sammy Lessons: Relishing Small Gifts

Why do people heat up when they sleep? I'm sure there's some very scientific explanation, but all I know is that my boys are all little space-heaters. On a cold night, you can warm up to them like you would a fire. But Sam, in particular, is a nocturnal furnace, and since he loves touch, he's like an organic heating pad. In fact, my husband observed when Sam was three months old that he was extremely "tactile." Not a word I frequently use, but it is actually the perfect word for Sam. He loves to be held and to touch. He started giving hugs and kisses when he was about five months old. He used to put his little arms around my neck and just squeeze and release, squeeze and release. He'd pull his darling head back to smile at me and then back to squeeze, release, squeeze, release. Then a few months later he added the back pat. Seriously. Now, when he is falling asleep or just waking up he tries to maximize contact. He hugs my head with both arms like some kind of stuffed animal and puts his hot little feet on my legs. Or he cups his steaming little paws around my face. It is divine, absolutely divine.

Yet in those moments, when I am getting Sam's equivalent of a hot stone massage, I am sometimes prone to think about what I need to do -- laundry to fold, emails to respond to, calls to return, activities to coordinate. But by God's grace, most of the time, I am able to just remind myself how fleeting these moments are. These years of mothering young ones are going by so quickly, and it is such a joyful time. They say the funniest things and are thrilled by the most simple gifts.

Just this morning, Sam located a pair of winter gloves. As many of you know, he has somewhat of a fixation with gloves. So Sam just grinned from ear to ear at the sight of them, "My gloves!" he exclaimed, "You found them!" Actually I'd hid them, but I couldn't take them away when he was so overjoyed. So he wore them to his "brudder's" swim practice and we played ping pong in the rain. His skill level was pretty impressive for a gloved, three-year-old playing on a puddled table.

In Matthew 18: 3 Jesus warns that "unless [we] change and become like little children, [we] will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Certainly we need the willing and simple faith of a child, but as I look at this verse today, I am struck that Jesus' statement is not explicitly limited to faith. He just says that children are prized in heaven and that we need to be like them -- willing to humble ourselves.

In Luke 16:10 Jesus says that "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much." Although this passage is primarily about handling money, it's also a principle with wider application. Whoever can be trusted with small blessings -- like finding one's gloves --can be trusted with more. It makes sense, doesn't it? If we are thankful for small things we are preparing our hearts for bigger blessings.

We can learn so much about humility and simplicity from our children. We should lovingly study them because Jesus told us to be like them. So what's one tangible way you can carry out this command?

As for me, I'm determined to appreciate every second of cuddle time with Sammy and to grin from ear to ear over some small gift every day.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Ten Commandments of Hebrews 13

I am not a very methodical person, not in the manner that I clean house, plan meals, do laundry, or even blog. I've been going through the book of Hebrews for months now, but my method is pretty simple. I pick up a Bible and read through the next few verses and see what pops out at me. But I've done that a number of times with this last chapter, and I just cannot pick one or two things to focus on -- it is too rich.

So at the pool today, where I have a favorite spot at a picnic table under tall pine trees, overlooking the lap pool where my boys have swim practice, I decided to make a list of the great principles of Hebrews 13. They are not the moral foundation of the Commandments given to Moses, but they are nonetheless transformational.

Hence, the Ten Commandments of Hebrews 13:
  1. Show brotherly love.
  2. Be hospitable to strangers. You may even unknowingly entertain angels.
  3. Remember those in prison as though in prison with them.
  4. Remember those who are mistreated, since you have a body and can appreciate how demeaning it must be.
  5. Hold marriage in high esteem.
  6. Watch out for greed. Instead be content with what you have.
  7. Model your lives after strong disciples of Christ.
  8. Don't be led away by "diverse and strange teachings." Instead be strengthened by grace.
  9. Offer up a continual sacrifice of praise -- "that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name."
  10. Share what you have and do not neglect to do good.
It doesn't take too much self-reflection to make a quick assessment. I'm doing alright on a couple of these, but mostly I could do better, much better. How about you?

May I offer some resources? I am familiar with all of these and contribute to some; each is on point for the respective commands.
  1. Wellspring International The humanitarian arm of RZIM.
  2. CouchSurfing This is not something I've actually done, but my friend, Michelle, has. She exemplifies this command and I admire her greatly for it. Plus, she has made some wonderful friends through Couch Surfing, modeled hospitality for her children like no one else, and gained some utterly fantastic stories as well.
  3. Prison Fellowship A wonderful ministry to prisoners and their families.
  4. International Justice Mission A human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression.
  5. Love and Respect Ministries A great marriage resource, with wonderful tips for getting off the "crazy cycle."
  6. Crown Financial Ministries Our bank statements reveal much about our priorities. This ministry is dedicated to helping people take a hard look at how they spend their money. It is biblically-based and I highly recommend it.
  7. The C.S. Lewis Institute This ministry is a great way for people in DC, Atlanta, and Annapolis to connect with strong followers of Christ. The mentoring ministry of your local church is another good resource. We must be intentional if we hope to have strong believers in our lives. We can and should pray that God will connect us with good mentors, but we should also be humble and vulnerable enough to ask someone to be a mentor.
  8. RZIM Ravi Zacharias is amazing. He preaches grace and truth and reason. He is funny and brilliant and kind. I am also blessed to be at McLean Bible Church each week, where I am strengthened by grace.
  9. Getty Music One way to keep praising Jesus is to read the Psalms. Another way is to listen to great music, like that of Keith and Kristyn Getty.
  10. Operation Blessing and Compassion International are two ministries that are doing great things all around the world. Operation Blessing is more of a relief organization, and Compassion International connects you via sponsorship with individual children. Both are showing the love of Jesus Christ to many in need.
So this wraps up Hebrews. I've been amazed by how much is in this one book. I'm looking forward to reading it through again with notes and commentary. I know I've only skimmed the surface here on the blog, but I greatly appreciate your willingness to read and learn with me.

As the book itself ends, so will this series: "Grace be with all of you."