Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shiny Things and Selfies

As I was clicking around the internet this morning trying to help a friend sitting in the doctor’s office to make The HPV Vaccine Decision-- to V or not to V, I found something I loved.  As far as HPV, I had not researched the topic in a while.  This post is not about The Decision but here is a great article she found -- seems grounded and balanced.  Just in case you’re interested.

So I’ve told you before, you get me to clicking around on the internet I am like that person distracted by Shiny Things.  For me, that’s book recommendations from magazine sites, thought provoking articles written by smart people-- so there I go, reading, “bookmarking", adding to the very long Wish List on Amazon…. and a couple of hours later, I look at the clock and roll my eyes.  Sucked in.  Again.

But I found something worth it!  Promise.  And I will share it with you in just a bit.  For the last few months, I’ve been focusing on some Scriptures regarding my own selfishness like, "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:3-5 and "For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3--and here’s a biting one, "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16

Of course, I still love “self” and struggle with denying my “self” any thing I decide my “self” would like to have.  I make selfish decisions and have selfish thoughts, but I am asking the Lord to TRAIN me to do it differently- a prayer I’ll be praying for the rest of my life.  So I have been a little touchy when it comes to any derivation of the word “self”-- especially when I hear it or see it with my kids.  The one that seems to just ooze with, oh, I don’t know, selfishness, is the new-ish word “selfie”.  I just called a “selfie” selfish.  Let me try again without clicking over what I just typed-- a selfie CAN be selfish.  So, no, of course, selfie’s aren’t wrong but they CAN be and they CAN place a focus- an intense one- where we need no more focus.

How do I know that? I am a girl--well, actually a 43 year old woman and I am raising a daughter who is 12.  Twelve.  I’d like to know how many times a 12 year old girl looks in the mirror.  That Shiny Mirror.  I’ve heard John Fuller from Focus on the Family talk about taking mirrors OUT of their home when their girls were pre-teens and early teenagers.  I am beginning to understand why.  We aren’t there yet, but I see her looking.  And I understand that too.  All of us gals do.  Which one of us hasn’t been horrified when the camera was flipped and we see ourselves trying to take a picture of what is in front of us?  You know the thoughts we have.  Are they healthy?  Do we say them out loud for our daughters to hear?  We check the next closest mirror.   Do I really look like that?  I know she’s going to look in the mirror… often, but I want to give her -- and myself--things to think about while she’s looking or when she thinks about checking herself one more time or when she wants to take a few “selfies” with her camera or when I see myself on the flip side of my camera….
I see myself, but how’s my heart today?  Can I be beautiful when I am angry with a friend?  Can I be lovely when I’ve been disrespectful to my parents {or my husband}?  Can my beauty shine through if have been lazy towards my responsibilities?  Have I looked at His Word as much I have looked in the mirror?  I see what I look like when I take a selfie, but what would I see if I took a selfie of my heart?

Those are not just for her, but for me as well.

Just this morning before school, when I saw her go OUT of her way, like climbed on top of something just to get a peek in a mirror too high for usefulness, only for decoration, we had this 3 minute exchange-- something like those questions above.  To at least get her thinking.  And to remind myself of the same things.  Right now, I am the one to model this for her.

In my clicking around this morning, I saw this post by Jennfier Dukes Lee. “What I Saw When I Gave Up Mirrors for Lent”.  Of course it caught my eye.

"I'm tired of how we, as women, often see ourselves and each other as a series of parts and "thigh gaps," or lack thereof. I'm tired of the photoshopping and the airbrushing, and yet, I am guilty. I deftly wield Instagram's Amaro filter to magically take five years off my face.
I'm tired of being a hypocrite in front of my daughters. At ages 12 and 9, they're now are old enough to know when I'm talking a good game and when I'm actually living what I believe. Children are mighty fine accountability partners. They are also mirrors themselves, reflecting what they see in their parents.

As Christian parents, we are the main (or at least the first) influencers in guiding our children into having a positive self-image and developing a healthy understanding of their identity in Christ—loved and accepted, as is. But now—perhaps more than ever in human history—we are being bombarded with opportunities for literal self-reflection."

Read the article and be challenged.  Read it to your middle school girls or teenagers.  Get their thoughts, because you know they will have one or two.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Southern Baptist Girl Trying to Get Her Lent On

I haven’t been a member of a Southern Baptist church in years but, still, I love the denomination and didn’t “leave” it for any reason except we felt at home in Bible churches here.  Southern Baptist is a part of me.  It’s how I grew up.  And there was no reason for a young girl in a Southern Baptist church in a small town to ever hear of Lent.

B knew it was strange when on Ash Wednesday, I told them I was going to participate in Lent this year.

“We aren’t Catholic!” he belted over Eggo Waffles.

And his bigger concern, “I don’t have to do it, do I?”

To look up the meaning of Lent in the dictionary, it sounds pretty awful:  an annual season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40 weekdays to Easter, observed by Roman Catholic, Anglican, and certain other churches

But WHY?  That definition leaves me cold because there is no purpose.

As I looked around for a good definition- with the “why”- to share with the kids, here are a few I found:

“Traditionally, Lent is a season of sober, realistic reflection on our own lives and our need for a Savior.  It is a time of turning away from anything that has kept us from God and for turning or returning to him.  It is a time to pray that God will renew our love for Him and our dependence on Him.”  Noelle Piper  {This is the one I shared with the kids.}

“Lent is the season when Christians have historically prepared their hearts for Easter with reflection, repentance and prayer.”  Devotions for Lent from the Mosaic Bible

"Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy." -- Pope Francis

And my favorite... “Lent is a plodding, definitive crescendo that leads up to the cacophonous noise of Good Friday and the gorgeous aria of Easter.  It’s a season marked by deliberateness and intentionality.”  Eileen Button

 This is the definition I want to have its own life in my home during these 40 days-- a deliberate and intentional reflecting on “God’s Big Story” and how every story shines just a little more light on the cross and the empty tomb and how we, personally and sacrificially, can identify in some small way with the reality of what Jesus did for us.  For my kids to know this and to experience it year in and year out, the anticipation of the darkness and death of Good Friday, the celebration of the LIGHT and LIFE of Easter.... this is rich.  This can help define them.  And me.

In years past, I have observed the days of Lent and we have some traditions in place that help us to remember and anticipate, but in all my 43 years, I have never participated in the the sacrificing, the denial, the fasting... This year, I couldn’t have taken a jet plane and distance myself from the pulling on my heart to do it.  It felt natural and I welcomed it.

Because I needed it.

“Christian fasting is a test to see what desires control us.  Fasting reveals the measure of food’s mastery over us-- or television or computers or whatever we submit to again and again to conceal the weakness of our hunger for God.”  John Piper, A Hunger for God

My dependence on Him needed some highlighting in my life.  I needed to exercise my need for Him.  I needed my thoughts to be somewhere other than on myself and my pleasure and my will.  I like how Eileen Button words this:

“Lent challenges us to consider the honest answers to these and other soul-searching questions. [How can we make room for the Savior in our lives?  Can we grasp the reality of Good Friday and live within within its irony?]  It invites us to jump off the hamster wheel of consumption and experience the pinch of abstaining from thoughtless indulgence.”

This “consumption” and “thoughtless indulgence”  set off an alarm in my heart and I wanted to look at these areas- not just physical, tangible things but how I think, what I think about, how I feel-- what truly brings me pleasure.  To remind me, to just feel a little “pinch”, I wanted to deny myself something that I really enjoyed and let God fill that with enjoyment of Him.  More of Him.  Less of me.

More from Ms. Button:  “It’s difficult to grasp what our sense of entitlement does to our bodies and souls.  Our culture worships at the feet of pleasure.”

The grasping can wither the soul.

Lent can highlight at what we are grasping, reveal what is hollow and, praise be to God, Christ can fill it.

More of Him.  Less of me.

And on a lighter note....

I invited the kids to do it with me even though 40 days is a really long time for their ages but I wanted them to have the opportunity.  {I will invite them again the week before Easter.}

To no surprise, Brighton was the first to speak up waving his hand, “I know what I will give up for Lent!”

He was way too excited about it-- that was my first clue this might not be headed in the right direction…..

“The Fresh 20!”  Click here to see how we’ve been eating since January and you will understand my 10 year old’s pain.  {I highly recommend The Fresh 20.  3/4 of our family has enjoyed it!}