Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Taking the Lord's Name in Vain

I want to begin by saying that I am not writing this to offend anyone. What I am about to share are my thoughts based on information I have acquired. You are free to disagree, but let us all agree that we can treat each other respectfully even if we see the world differently. 

Recently, I was in the Book of Exodus. As in the Old Testament. I was reading the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

I also attend BSF, Bible Study Fellowship, an international Bible study each week. Currently, we are studying Genesis. In Genesis Chapter 27 is the story of Jacob tricking his father Isaac and stealing his brother Esau’s blessing. In verse 20 Jacob answered his father’s inquiry by stating, “The Lord your God gave me success.” As we discussed this at Bible study, an idea was introduced to me that I had not learned prior. Our leader said that Jacob had taken God’s name in vain. What I had always understood about taking the Lord’s name in vain was about cussing while using one of the many names for God. However, while this is still the case, she said that taking God’s name in vain is actually to say that something is from God when it is not. That you are acting on behalf of direction from God when you are not. In other words, it is a misuse of God’s word. 

This kind of rocked my boat. You mean to tell me that is what the commandment is all about. It isn’t just letting a “Jesus Christ” slip out when I am mad? I have thought about this for awhile now. Let me be honest, I have certainly sinned in this way. I have used scripture in an attempt to be right about something, not because God had led me to do so but because of my own pride. 

One area that I think this sin is being employed right now in our world is with the gay marriage debate. This was a hot topic last fall and is now in the news because of the Supreme Court cases. 

I am not a Bible scholar. Many would probably say that I am not a good Christian. I will readily admit that I turned from God deliberately over the last decade. As I have turned back to the word and am grasping for faith, there are questions that haunt me. The way many people have treated homosexuals in the name of God has been a big sticking point for me. I don’t want to be associated with bigotry and hatefulness. I have been praying for God to give me understanding. 

The clarity on the issue of taking God’s name in vain seems like an answer for me. I am not going to offer an opinion on what the Bible says about sexual immorality and how that relates to homosexuality. That is not important for this discussion. More than likely you know my view. 

God does not justify hateful words and actions. Even if you believe being gay is sinful, even if, I question why this “sin” is receiving so much attention when the Bible clearly states other behaviors are sinful that are left ignored. It just seems disingenuous. 

I guess my struggle is that what feels like bigotry to me is being defended by evoking God’s word. So for me the belief is not what matters. It is the intention. If the intention is one of personal discomfort. If the intention is to “pick on” a minority group because it doesn’t actually require any personal change or sacrifice, well, I would just have to say that is misusing God’s word. 

This understanding offers me a peace as I work to strengthen my faith. God is love. God loves us all. As I worship God, I can do so knowing that not everything said in his name comes from him. And even that many need to ask themselves, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Helping Hands

For some unknown reason, people are extremely generous to me. It seems that whenever I have a need others step in to offer a helping hand. For this I am grateful.

March has been a month of sickness at our house. We have only had brief respites between colds and viruses. A few weeks ago I had a nasty cold and my good friend Jen brought over dinner for my family. Last week when I was knee deep in Gracie's stomach bug, my sweet neighbor Pam brought over a delicious meal, hot from the stove and ready to put on the table for my family. A gaggle of delighted boys ran to my door holding yummy dishes while Jack yelled, "they are coming."

Homecooked meals during times of sicknesses are the best blessing. Nourishment for the body and the soul. A reminder of the friendships we have cultivated and the generous spirit of our friends and neighbors.

Another recent blessing came as we planned a family vacation to Disney World in Florida. You see, since having Grace I have battled with anxiety. As we worked to find lodging for our trip, I quickly became overwhelmed. The pressure of finding a fun place to stay made me want to cancel the whole thing. Just at the moment where the stress started to rain down, friends offered a solution and generous lodging gift. A relief just when I needed it.

Another neighbor recently offered words of encouragement. She stopped by my house for a quick visit and had to listen to me yammer on apologizing for the mess. Later I was at her house and she said that her house was a mess but that she thinks it is good for us to see each other's houses messy. What a smart and freeing statement. And what an extremely generous way to address my overabundance of insecurity.

I am not always good at receiving gifts of generosity. I tend to feel a need to repay the kindness. My mom offered sage advice. She told me not to take away others' opportunity to give a blessing. I am working on gracefully receiving the generosity and helping hands so often offered.

For now I will just say thank you and offer my genuine gratitude for the love and blessings.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Crappy Week - Literally

The last time Grace threw up was October 2011. The last time Jack threw up was February 2011. The last time I threw up? Let's just say it involved a Halloween party and strong punch. Apparently after four years of being pregnant or nursing babies, my body was not up for the mystery punch at my friend's annual Halloween bash last year.

Anyway, my point is that we don't throw up much. I have friends whose kids are always puking. But for some reason the Driver house seems to avoid most of the nasty stomach bugs. Well, this week Grace caught an epic virus. It started Tuesday morning when I tried to put little Gracie in her chair for breakfast and she refused. It wasn't your normal, "I am two and gonna do what I want," kind of fussing. She didn't seem well. I sat her down on the floor and she proceeded to vomit all over herself, her lovey and baby, and of course me. 

She didn't throw up the rest of the day and seemed fine on Wednesday except for a little diarrhea. (Is anyone actually still reading this?) I thought she was on the mend. Thursday morning she had two runny poops before I took Jack to preschool. I got everyone ready and Jack to school on time. 

With all the pooping I didn't manage to dry my hair or finish getting ready for the day. Grace settled on my bed to watch Sesame Street and asked for milk. Grace drank her big sippy cup of milk and watched Big Bird while I dried my hair. After a few minutes Grace started to cry followed by large amounts of throwing up. My bed including pillow was soaked through. It was a mess. I got Grace in the tub and washed. Just as I was about to pull her out, she pooped in the tub. It was a bad fifteen minutes.

Finally today Grace stopped throwing up. It was five full days of sickness. Over the last week I have been thrown up on at least six times. I have done more loads of laundry than I can count. I have missed sleep, worried, cleaned, and held Grace just about all of her waking minutes. It is my job. I am a mom.

Now, I did not tell you this extremely gross and detailed story just to whine. During this week of exhaustion and cracked hands from too much washing, something occurred to me. There is no where else I would rather be. Don't get me wrong. I would rather be on a warm beach watching my healthy children frolic in the sand. But, if one of my sweeties must be sick, I want to be the one they are throwing up on.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

5 Marriage Lessons

This week Christian and I celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary. We were married on the first day of spring. For me spring always represents a time of renewal.

I am by no means a marriage expert but I have learned a few things over the last nine years and want to share my lessons with you.

1 - Marriage is work - Love stories usually end with the couple heading off into the sunset full of love and lust; however, real life does not work that way. Marriage is fun and good, but what our society doesn't emphasize is the level of work and commitment marriage takes. Two flawed humans joining up to share a life is bound to have some struggles. Marriage is the hardest relationship I have ever had. Partly this is because it is the most critical to my daily life and future. The only way a marriage can work in a healthy way is for both individuals to be dedicated to making that relationship a top priority and a willingness to do the hard work to stay together.

2 - Happiness comes from within - Another fallacy the world offers is the idea that we will meet our perfect mate and live happily ever after. Here is a lesson I learned the hard way. It is not your spouse's job to make you happy. Happiness can only come from within. No one else can make your life happy. Not a spouse, not children. Nothing external including the vices of shopping, eating, drinking or gossiping will ever fill you up. A marriage can be easily ruined if we are expecting our spouse to make us happy. Do the work as an individual to cultivate a happy heart and your marriage will be happier too.

3 - Do not finance a wedding - I would have been perfectly content to pay for a huge wedding on credit. Christian however would not have married me if I had financed our wedding. Instead we had a very modest celebration. Yet, I have zero regret about having a humble wedding. I am actually thankful that Christian had the wisdom to not allow me to dig a financial hole for a one day party. My advice to anyone would be to only have the wedding you can afford to pay for with cash. Again, the world tells us that we deserve a huge expensive wedding. I disagree. Do not add to the stress of marriage by starting with unnecessary debt.

4 - Learn to compromise - Living with another person and making the majority of decisions together is hard. It requires sacrifice and humbleness. Neither of these were strengths I brought into our marriage. I used to believe that compromise just meant that no one got their way. The years have taught me that compromise helps avoid resentments that can erode a marriage. As with anything in life, you have to pick your battles. Let go of things that are not truly important and put your ego on a shelf.

5 - Check yourself first - Give your partner grace. Don't assume that whatever problem or struggle you are facing is external. This is key for marriage but also works well with any relationship. Look to yourself first to see where you are falling short, failing, being selfish, stubborn or just plain mean. Marriage works best when each individual strives to be their best self. Don't blame your spouse. Instead, look at how you can change your heart, attitude or actions to create a culture of love and acceptance in your home and marriage.

Again, I am not a marriage expert, but I am happily married. This was not always the case. It has taken effort, compromise, forgiveness, and a decision to love my husband daily for our marriage to work.

I am happier now than I have ever been. Life is good, but it is not good from luck. It is good from a whole lot of dedication and hard work.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Triumphant Two

Grace celebrated her second birthday in January. Don't ask me why it has taken until March to write about it.

Gracie's second year was triumphant. Because of the hip dysplasia she struggled through during her first year, most of her big milestones occurred during her second year.

This year Grace learned to pull herself up, stand, walk, climb and run. She thoroughly explored her world. She discovered her brother's toys and spent the year following him around attempting to do everything she saw him try.

This year Grace's personality started to shine through. She enjoys sitting her room looking at books. She loves baby dolls and playing kitchen. Even when she plays with Jack's cars, trucks and trains; it is with a gentler touch.

Grace loves to talk and she has an extensive vocabulary for a two year old. Of course, I understand most of what she says, although I am not sure everyone does.

Gracie's favorite things are her binky, lovey and doll. She wants to carry them around constantly, and I usually let her.

Grace is a happy child and a sweet girl. We are enjoying this time with Grace as she transitions out of the baby stage and toward more independence.

We had a wonderful year with Grace and are grateful to watch her grow and develop.

Have a beautiful year sweet Gracie. We love you!