Rotten Apples in this Basket

When we were waiting for our son to come along, my husband and I agreed that we wouldn’t immerse ourselves in all the parenting books that are available out there. We didn’t want the confusion that is inevitable with so much conflicting advice and felt that our time would be better spent elsewhere. Looking back, I’m really grateful for that intentional move because I’m quite heavily influenced by what I read. And recently our Good Dirt devotions have been cutting me to the quick.

 

You know how parents are told to make sure to shape their child’s attitude so that their behavior is just right so that their lives will turn out perfectly? (Even in Kingdom Living, we find ourselves losing track and aiming for ‘perfect’, so bear with me here) And you know how no matter what you say to your child, what you do is about the only thing they’ll actually pick up? Well, I’ve been doing my math lately and concluded that my poor son has little hope of ever being perfect. Not because of his attitude or behavior……but because of mine.

 

We came across some evening questions recently that went something like this: “How did you work with God today? What kind of good did you spread?” Good Dirt – Kingdomtide

 

I had allowed a dark cloud to remain over my head the whole day that affected every behavior and decision. So would you believe, I actually skipped over those questions and didn’t ask them? I didn’t ask them because I didn’t want to answer them. I didn’t want to consider them. The very thought of examining my own attitude and trying to answer how I (hadn’t) worked with God that day made me feel narcoleptic. Sleeping is an effective way of hiding. I really wanted to just sleep it off and wake up to a new day. In fact, I did. And of course I found that the new day required the same humility and repentance of me.

 

And then I saw this on the opposite page: “Tell about a time today when it was difficult to tell the truth.” (Stop it! Just stop!)

 

Isn’t it such a wonderful thing that bad attitudes and a refusal to work with God are redeemed at the cross?

“Lord, my heart turns toward you in repentance. Please transform my indignant attitude into a flexible one – one that works with You. Help my eyes to remain focused on You and not to look for an alternative goal. Thank you for drawing me to Yourself. I rejoice in You!”

 

If you need some time to reflect on the Grace and pursuing Love of God, take a long, quiet moment to read through Psalm 139. I’m writing that here so I can remember where to go when I need to turn my attitude around tomorrow. I’m glad I’m heavily influenced by what I read.

 

Tamara

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Ordinary Time is just so… Ordinary

During the summer these words bellow from the porches and couches of millions of homes in America: “I’m bored.” Every kid in the free world, having prayed fervently for school to end, is now proclaiming that the day of perpetual boredom is here.

In our culture the tendency is to fill up the summer with camps, classes, and distractions of every shape and color. What would happen if we halted our planning and pondered the wisdom of Kingdomtide, or as it is traditionally called, Ordinary Time?

What is ordinary? Oatmeal for breakfast is ordinary. Laundry, the sun coming up, rain, reading to my kids, mowing the lawn, feeding the chickens, making the bed, napping on Sunday—all ordinary. Without these ordinary actions, our lives lose a sense of rhythm. In fact, without the ordinary we don’t grow, not physically or spiritually. There is nothing fancy or fabulous about a meal of beans and cornbread, except that it sustains our bodies, and thousands of people eat it every day. It is an ordinary meal that does extraordinary things. The fact that the sun comes up every day is an ordinary event most of us ignore, but without it nothing could live.  Jesus was so fond of teaching out of ordinariness, over dinner, in a wheat field. He taught the foundational truths of the universe out of an ordinary body, using ordinary words, to ordinary people.

For six seasons now, we (Lacy and Ben and you!) have looked forward and backward; we’ve celebrated and mourned. Now, during Kingdomtide, we settle in: we find our stride. For 29 full weeks we all have the chance to establish a family rhythm that will grow us and ours.

Many families practice the spiritual discipline of vacation during Kingdomtide, but for most vacation is just one week in the midst of 29 weeks of ordinary. The other 28 weeks are the lazy days of summer, complete with marshmallow roasting, watermelon seed spitting, and bike riding. We intermingle these sorts of activities with the open space of unscheduled time. For children and for their adults, this is the season of rhythms to build a life on.

We might think that the rhythms and lessons of ordinariness will just meander their way into our homes—and maybe this used to be so.  But in a culture built on desire and distraction, ordinariness is endangered. Building a life on the rhythms of ordinariness takes intention and attention. We will have to intend to walk slowly with our kids to the mailbox while stopping and looking at every bug that passes by. We will have to think to grab a stick and play pirate with the neighbor kids. We will have to watch for the teachable moments of forgiveness when siblings quarrel. We will have to be determined to teach the time-honored skill of pancake flipping infused with thankfulness. We will need to plan to lie in the backyard and teach the names of the constellations, or make up our own. During the ordinary routines of eating and sleeping, rest and work, moments will slip up on us that are golden for teaching the way of Jesus. It is our job to lessen the distractions so we will recognize these moments when they come our way. If we do this, our TV’s will grow dusty, our schedule will look empty, and when people ask what our big plans are for the summer, we will say with a knowing smile, “Oh nothing, absolutely nothing.”