Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Motherhood is Not a Hobby

This one of the finest pieces I have ever read about Motherhood.  I just had to share it here:

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.
Our culture is simply afraid of death. Laying down your own life, in any way, is terrifying. Strangely, it is that fear that drives the abortion industry: fear that your dreams will die, that your future will die, that your freedom will die—and trying to escape that death by running into the arms of death.

Please continue on to the Desiring God website to read from the beginning...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Goodness as a Reflection

My husband was just telling me about this article he had read in some National Geographic magazine which intrigued him to no end.  It was about Singapore, a country 1/8 the size of Delaware. It states: "Out of a malarial swamp, the tiny island at the southernmost tip of the Malay Peninsula gained independence from Britain in 1963 and, in one generation, transformed itself into a legendarily efficient place, where the per capita income for its 3.7 million citizens exceeds that of many European countries, the education and health systems rival anything in the West, government officials are largely corruption free, 90 percent of households own their own homes, taxes are relatively low and sidewalks are clean, and there are no visible homeless people or slums.  If all that, plus a typical unemployment rate of about 3 percent and a nice stash of money in the bank thanks to the government's enforced savings plan, doesn't sound sweet to you, just travel 600 miles south and try getting by in a Jakarta shantytown."1  Sounds nice, right?

But when you start to read about their laws and how their enforced policies extend to every little facet of life, you wonder if the price of their prosperity and security is worth it. There are fines for chewing gum, spitting, even bringing durian fruit into certain places.  Littering trash or a cigarette butt will get you a $200 fine the first time; next time you'll find yourself doing community service and picking up others' litter.  If you're found with even small amounts of drugs, you'll be sentenced to a court-ordered caning.  Penalty for drug trafficking is death.   And woe to the foreign immigrants who find themselves in a family way!  Pregnancy means deportation.  Couples are encouraged to marry within their own status so college graduates should marry other college graduates, and the "Two is Enough" slogan gives you an idea of their population control.  The article goes on to explain the minister's ideas on humanity: "'The Confucian theory was man could be improved, but I'm not sure he can be.  He can be trained, he can be disciplined.'  In Singapore that has meant lots of rules - prohibiting littering, spitting on sidewalks, failing to flush public toilets - with fines and occasional outing in the newspaper for those who break them."  According to the minister, the idea "'that man could be perfected...was an optimistic way of looking at life.'  People abuse freedom.  That is his beef with America: The rights of individuals to do their own thing allow them to misbehave at the expense of an orderly society.  As they say in Singapore:  What good are all those rights if you're afraid to go out at night?"

Even if it still sounds somewhat like an Utopian society to you, here's how some of Singapore's citizens summed up their thoughts:  "I do lament our lack of freedom to express ourselves, and the government's seemingly unmitigated grip on power and what appears to be an inconsistent willingness to listen to public sentiment that does not suit it." and another sentiment "Singapore is like a warm bath.  You sink in, slit your wrists, your lifeblood floats away, but hey, it's warm." Utopia?  Hmmm...

I was reminded of the above article when I came across a quote today in a book.  

"I was taught right and wrong as a kid.  But the truth is that I drive completely differently when there is a cop behind me, and when there isn't.  It is hard for us to admit we have a sin nature, because we live in this system of checks and balances.  If we get caught, we'll be punished.  But this doesn't make us good people; it makes us subdued people.*  Just think about the Senate and the House, even the President.  The genius of the American system is checks and balances.  Nobody gets all the powers.  Everyone is watching everyone else.  It's as if the Founding Fathers knew intrinsically that the soul of humanity, unwatched, is perverse."2 

The idea that just because we might know right from wrong and live accordingly doesn't make us good.  It makes us subdued.  Only the Father is good.  Only Christ is good.  Only the Holy Spirit is good.  And the more we give ourselves over to God and allow the goodness of the Holy Spirit to shine through us, the more good we'll seemingly look to others.  But we will never be good ourselves and on our own terms.  Countries can mandate good behavior, but goodness or righteousness can never be attained.  Let us never forget that we are only the reflection of God's goodness to others.  Having no light of our own, we are the moon to His sun.  

1. From the January 2010 National Geographic magazine titled "Merging Man and Machine"
2. Quote from Jazz Notes: Improvisations on Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
* Bold font mine.

Note: Any references/notes pulled from Nat Geo or the book Jazz Notes does in no way mean I agree/believe with the philosophies put forth by either resource.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Seven - Possessions

We've wrapped up the clothing chapter of Seven and are moving on to the chapter on Possessions. This means we will be spending roughly the month of April in serious purge-mode. The challenge is to give away the equivalent of 7 items a day for 30 days, which totals 240 items. However, there are LOTS of variations on this, and the important thing is to reflect on where your own possessions are possessing you and address THAT.

For me, it will roughly look like spending one week on clothing & accessories, one week on closets, one on toys, books and crafts, and one on my kitchen. If my husband gets involved, there may be time spent in our barn as well. I will be working hard at applying the questions below to items and getting rid of anything that doesn't make the cut.

In effort to help you with the items you may be finding it difficult to part with, ask yourself the following series of questions:

1. Do I love it?
2. Do I use it/wear it? How long ago did I use it/wear it?
3. Does it serve more than one purpose and/or assist me to get rid of something else in it's place? (ie. a mixer with a bread dough blade could maybe replace a bread machine.)
4. Do I have the space to store it without creating a cluttered space?
5. Am I willing to give up something else in order to make room for it? 
6. Can I imagine myself or anyone in my family ever loving it or needing it in the foreseeable future?
7. Can I honestly see myself finishing, fixing, or using this item for what it was intended? (Ie, craft projects, broken items, unimplemented home improvement solutions, etc.)
8. Am I keeping this item out of obligation or expectation?
9. Is this a real "just in case item" or an imaginary one? (Ie. the difference between storing some emergency candles or that formal dress from 1986 that just might come in handy the next time you're invited to a prom.)
10. Do I have multiples of this item? (A great example - art supplies - how many burnt umber crayons do you need? - Hint: the answer is ONE. No matter how many kids you have.)
11. Is this item worth the time and space it uses in my life?

Try to think outside the box whenever possible. A great way to do this is to bring in a friend who you know approaches life differently than you do - use this to your advantage and have them help you evaluate your true "need" for things or even how to put what you have and the space you have to their best use.

Do you have more tips on organizing and purging? Share them with us! Don't forget to also share how you hope to attack your stuff this month!
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