Not Ready For Easter? You’re In Good Company

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I woke up in the middle of the night last night in a panic.  I dreamed it was Easter morning, and I had forgotten to fill the Easter baskets and hide the eggs.  I almost got out of bed until I realized I had another day.  So I took a deep breath and went back to sleep.

When I woke up this morning, it dawned on me.

I’m not ready for Easter.

Yet in the midst of my panic attack, I heard another voice.  A voice that is much calmer.  A voice that assures me that Easter is not about me, it’s about something much bigger.  Something miraculous that doesn’t depend on my efforts to fill Easter baskets or hide eggs.

Here’s what the voice said:

Keep it simple this year.

I know, this isn’t very profound.  But it hit me hard.  Probably because life is more complicated than it needs to be right now.  Granted, I no longer need to deal with Easter Bunny Drama (I never really liked that sneaky Easter Bunny anyway).  Yet I still feel the pressure to make Easter a big production – to get distracted from the real meaning of the death and resurrection of my Lord.

Truth be told, I wasn’t even ready for Lent this year.  The season has passed so quickly.  In an effort to “keep it simple” this week, I’ve been reading about the last week of Jesus’ life.  Every evening, we sit in the living room and read about the events of the day.  One thing I’m struck by (with some comfort) is this:  the disciples weren’t ready either.  They didn’t get it.  They didn’t prepare for Easter let alone fathom the events to come.  But this didn’t stop Jesus.

I may not be ready for Easter, but maybe that’s a good thing.  It forces me to “keep it simple” – to leave room for Jesus to surprise me instead of getting distracted by my own efforts and plans.  To even embrace an Easter miracle.

How will you keep Easter simple this year?   Are you ready for the unexpected?

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.  (Luke 18: 31-34)

 

 

Working Mom’s Devotional: Not Now God!

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“Your license expired over a month ago.” My husband boomed as I walked into the door after a long week.

“That’s impossible, I just renewed it two years ago.”

“No, really.  We just got a notice in the mail.  It expired on your birthday.”

Rats!  I hate it when he’s right.  Worse yet, I just don’t have time to get my license renewed.  At least that’s what I told myself all weekend.

I’ll just get it done Monday morning.  I’ll get to the license bureau right when it opens, and it will take me ten minutes.

Unfortunately, Monday had its own set of issues.  In addition to the usual scramble of early morning emails, packing lunches, and getting three kids out the door for school, I woke up with an eye swelled up the size of Texas!

Really, God?  I don’t have time for this!  Not right now.  I already have a busy day, I’m already driving around with an expired license, and I’m going to have to live with this picture for four years!

(As Bob Costas knows all too well, eye infections can sneak up unannounced.)

All vanity (mostly)  aside, most of us don’t have a spare minute in our schedules to wait in long lines at the license bureau or take care of unexpected eye infections.  When the ophthalmologist told me I needed to put warm compresses on my eye four times a day, I almost laughed out loud.  I’ll get right on that.  In between carpool and conference calls. 

Yet in the midst of my chaos, I hear God calling.

Stop.  Slow down.  Listen.  Come to me.

It’s a big relief.  But it’s also harder than it sounds.

During this season of Lent, I am reminded each day how far I have to go.  Even though I wrote Chasing Superwoman some six years ago, I wonder.  Has anything really changed?  I’ve traded in daycare and diapers for carpool and texting.  And I have less time that ever!

Yet in the midst of my struggle, I feel God’s grace stronger than ever.  I need him more than ever.  And I’m reminded why Jesus went so far to mend my broken Mondays.

So I take a license picture that gives me a good laugh for the next four years.

“Be still an know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10)

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Do you feel annoyed by the unexpected demands on your schedule?  Am I the only one who struggles to find time for doctor appointments and license renewals?

Working Mom’s Devotional: How Do You Find Time For Church?

Last Sunday, I got chills during worship as my church celebrated the packing of 500,000 meals.  As exciting, my 7th-grade son actually got engaged – I mean really engaged – about a service project for the needy.

It’s one thing to take our children to church.  It’s another thing to really get involved.  With the demanding schedule of a modern-day family, getting invested in a local church can be a challenge.  I know all too well.

When my kids were young, I almost gave up.

Who has time to be involved in a church?  I already have enough on my plate.

Which is why I believe many working moms just give up. Besides, the church doesn’t always know what to do with us.  Think about it.

  • We don’t have much time to volunteer.
  • Our kids are often exposed to too much media and technology.
  • MOPS happens during our work day (along with a host of other Bible Studies and play groups).

Plus, there’s no good time.

Early morning?  I have to get the kids to school.

After work? I’ve barely seen my kids all day.

After my kids go to bed?  I’m exhausted.

And what about time with my husband?

Excuses, excuses. I am full of them.  But thankfully, God cares about us more than he cares about our excuses.

But I also believe that God is patient with us during each season of life.  Just this week, I was talking to a new mom at church, and she can barely make it through a worship service — with a 20-month daughter who keeps getting sick in the nursery.  Yes, I remember those days like yesterday.  So I encouraged her to hang in there.  Just think, today I have a 7th grader who is packing meals for the hungry!

How do you make time for your local church?  What are your excuses?

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)

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God, thank you so much for my church.  I don’t know how I could do it on my own. Raising kids is hard enough these days.  I pray for all the working moms who are isolated from the local church.  Bring us together in community, and please help us to be patient with each stage of life — and to get past our excuses.  

 [Note to self:  Remove above picture of Nick in the hair net before he sees it! I couldn't resist!]

Working Mom’s Devotional: Should We Force Kids To Go To Church?

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“Mom, I don’t want to go to church this morning.”  My fifth-grade daughter protested as I woke her from a deep slumber.

“But Anna, you missed church last week.  Plus, next week you have a volleyball tournament.”

“I can’t move, I’m exhausted.”

“That’s because you had a sleepover Friday night.”

“Well, I’m too tired.  I just want to sleep.”

“Anna, please do your best.  This is important.”

I closed her bedroom door and walked downstairs.  This conversation is going no where.  I’m the parent, I just have to set the rules.  It’s not like I let her skip school when she’s too tired.

I thought back to my own mother on Sunday mornings.  She never let us sleep in.  Not in a million years.  I could have been on my death bed, and she’d still drag me out of bed on Sunday morning.  So what if my father stayed home to read the paper and smoke cigarettes, she would never dream of skipping church.  And sometimes I resented her for it.

I don’t want Anna to resent me.  I don’t want her to think that her faith is a set of rules.  That we just need to tick a box and show up to appease God.

But I also don’t want her to miss out.  We make time for the things in life that are important.  Even when we’re tired.

Grace-based parenting is harder than it sounds.   The answers may be simple.  But execution is complicated.  I’ve read the books.  I understand that each child is different.  I understand that as parents we must set an example, and that actions speak louder than words.

I also know that on my own, I lack wisdom.  That only through prayer and the Spirit of God will I have the discernment to know when to hold firm and when to let go.  That God is doing a work in my children through his amazing grace.  That more often than not, I need to engage.  But sometimes, as they get older, I need to get out of his way.

As I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, my husband started the car.  No sign of Anna.  She had slept through breakfast.  As we walked out the door, she stumbled downstairs with messy hair and sleepy eyes.  She was dressed and ready.  Breakfast could wait.

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Do you struggle with grace-based parenting?  If we ask God for wisdom, he promises to give generously.  

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:15

Working Mom’s Devotional: Are You “Checked Out” On Social Media?

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I’ve had some friends and readers ask me the same question:  “Why aren’t you blogging more?”

Truth be told, my social media presence has dropped significantly in the last six months.   While I continue to write for favorite sites like The High Calling, I’ve missed a host of opportunities to promote my books and inspire loyal readers.  This causes me some angst.  I’m one of those people who not only loves to write – I love to connect with readers, and I even enjoy social media.  Heck, I’m one of the few people I know under 50 who actually still likes Facebook.

So, why the drop off?

It’s simple.  I’m having a hard time being emotionally present at home when I’m always online.

Can anyone relate?

It doesn’t help that I have a job that requires my connection 24/7.  It doesn’t help that my children are at emotionally demanding ages.  And it doesn’t help that I’m a multi-taskaholic by nature and am prone to take on more than I can handle.

Social media and texting tend to inflict a form of self-induced ADD that pulls me away from the moment.  Like Martha of Bethany, I may be “busy” getting things done.  But I’m not always emotionally present.   Like Martha, I am easily distracted.

Here’s what the New Testament says about Martha of Bethany when Jesus comes to her house:

“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”  (Luke 10:40)

In other words, Martha is so busy that she misses what’s most important.  (She misses Jesus even though he is sitting in the middle of her living room!)  Can you imagine Martha on social media?  She might never come up for air.   Mary, on the other hand, probably doesn’t have an iPhone or a Twitter account.   She’s the kind of friend that would drive us crazy because she never returns her text messages. Yet she shows us the importance of slowing down and sitting at Jesus’ feet.  Actually paying attention to people who are in the room.  Looking into their eyes.  Engaging in a conversation.

As we’re preoccupied with our iPhones, texting, and favorite social media sites, I wonder how many of us are emotionally present at any given moment.    Do we see past our children who are right in front of us?  Do we detach ourselves emotionally from conversation?   Do we give anyone our undivided attention?

If Jesus was sitting in our living rooms, would we even see him?

[Ok, if Jesus was in my living room, I would probably take a picture of him and post it on Facebook.  Shameless, I know. ]