Monday, March 27, 2017

The Questionnaire at the Eye Doctor

Last week, I had the privilege of going to the eye doctor alone. Those with small children will understand why I call this a privilege. Going anywhere alone is like a vacation, no matter how short-lived.

And plus, the eye doctor is one of the better appointments you could have. No uncomfortable situations like visiting the lady doctor. No pain or annoyances like holding your mouth wide open at the dentist. At the eye doctor, you pretty much just have to look.

My paradise did not last long. This was my first appointment in ten years, so I had to fill out their handy-dandy new patient questionnaire.

THE QUESTIONNAIRE.

The top portion of the paper was quite typical. It asked for emergency contact, medical doctor, date of birth, etc. The basics.

But in the middle of the paper it all went downhill.

The paper was asking me to check the boxes for all of my interests and hobbies. I thought, "Oh great! I'm interesting and fun. This should be no problem!"

Wrong.

The list that I could choose from included a variety of sports that I had never played, video games, and other activities that I have not done for a good ten years.

I ended up checking the following: Cooking. Gardening. Reading. Snow Skiing. (I haven't skied since I've had kids, but I had to give myself one!)

I looked at my checks and thought that I easily could have been confused with an 80 year old woman! All that was missing was needle point! (No offense, anyone.)

I sat there in the waiting area with a cloud around me. To make matters worse, I had to answer the good old question: What is your occupation and employer? 

I never know really what to put there as a stay-at-home-mom. That phrase seems too long for the little box they give on the paper. So I went with the classic, Homemaker.

I hate that word. It sounds so dowdy and, well, OLD. Welcome back, 1955!

The rest of my appointment went just fine, but the joy of my freedom was dampened. 

I got to thinking later that I might as well have put a target on my back. In fact, I pretty much did! My word of the year is Content. I have told the entire world wide web and a radio audience that Content is my word of focus for 2017. Of course Satan is going to do whatever he can to make me feel not content. He used my feelings about my occupation and my activity level to dash my spirits. 

He had me questioning whether or not I could really be content as a stay-at-home-mom. And to be honest, its not the first time. I'm an easy target in this area. 

No matter our profession or lack there of, we will always struggle with being content. I know that. I could be living out my professional dreams but there could still be more I would want. Bigger house, better furniture, nicer car. It could go on and on. 

The secret to being content is to get our eyes off of our circumstances and focus on God. Real contentment is found in relationship with Him. In Him, we have all we need.

Here are a couple of verses I found that helped me refocus.
"Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can't take anything with us when we leave it" (1 Timothy 6:6-7), emphasis added. 

    •  The part that I emphasized there tells me that being content is not easy, for great wealth usually does not come easily. It takes a lot of work. I also notice that being content is to be like God. Great goal to strive after!

"Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, 'I will never leave you. I will never abandon you" (Hebrews 13:5), emphasis added. 

    • God is all we will ever truly need, and He's not going anywhere! Amen! 
**Disclaimer: I love being a stay-at-home-mom and would not trade it for a paying job. I know I will not regret being at home with my kids. However, no job is easy and without trials. God alone can give us contentment in the midst of trials, hard times, and the "Blah" times!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Blog for This Day of the Woman

I used to consider myself a feminist.

I am educated. I am smart. I am capable. So by golly, I deserve equal opportunities. I deserve equal treatment. I deserve equal pay. Give me what I deserve!

There is nothing wrong with being a feminist. We all have different opinions and background and are all shaped by a variety of circumstances.

But because I am a follower of Jesus, I have some different standards. My thoughts and feelings are continually being refined to make me more like my Savior. And thank God for that!

First thing's first: this world will never be a place of equality for all. That would mean that the world would be a perfect place. The state of perfection went out a long time ago in a garden far, far away. Sorry to say that, but its true. Jesus even told us, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows" (John 16:33). Perfection will only be achieved when Jesus returns and God's people are at last restored to the way God meant it to be all along. Until then, ALL people will struggle. Some people many be mistreated because of size, gender, race, etc. This is because people are imperfect and will be imperfect until that day finally comes.

Secondly, and most importantly, to the Women! We will never be fully satisfied if we are chasing after the world's idea of what it means to be a woman. The world tells us that we should not be happy to stay at home and raise our kids. The world tells us that if we work, we are neglecting our kids. The world tells us we need to buy more clothes, bags, makeup, shoes, etc. in order to feel more beautiful, to feel more important. These are all lies. Too many women today are mislead by them.

Ladies, the only thing worth chasing after is God. He alone can give you the purpose that will truly satisfy your soul. He alone can love you perfectly, just as you are. He alone will treat you with equality. No matter what.

These ideas are very counter-cultural. It is hard to stand apart from society. It is hard to live differently and not participate in ways that other women may deem "worthy of the cause." But that is what God calls us women (and men) to do.
"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect" (Romans 12:2).
The key to being able to stand apart from society? Allowing God to change the way you think. Because not only are these ideas counter-cultural; they are also counter-intuitive.

As human beings, we are programmed to take care of self. We naturally seek to advance ourselves any way we can. It is only by allowing God to change the way we think that we can see His will for our lives--that good, pleasing, and PERFECT will.

This is why being a woman after God's heart is so hard. God calls women and mothers to be self-sacrificing while our insides scream, "What's in this for me? When will I get some kind of recognition for all of this work?"

You probably won't. This world does not always honor those who quietly and humbly serve. But Jesus, the King of the World, came and served in that very same way. He is our model. In John chapter 13, He washed the feet of his disciples. This was a job reserved for the lowliest slave in that day. But Jesus did it to demonstrate His great love. He served in the most humble of ways to be our example.
"I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them" (John 13:15-17).
Let me just be the first to say that this idea of "humble serving" is something I struggle with every day. Like I said before, I used to be a feminist. I used to feel entitled to recognition and accolades. It is hard to quiet that down within yourself. I am a work in progress!

It is good to be driven, and it is good to want to help others who are struggling. But everything we do and everything we stand for should be for the main goal. We should be pointing people to Jesus. Jesus showed His love and He served so people would believe in Him and in the God who sent Him. He is the only way to be saved from the imperfection of this world.

If we are not doing that, our actions are futile. "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

This blog has helped me evaluate that for which I am striving. I had a bad week a couple of weeks ago, complete with a couple of pity parties. I was seeking those accolades. I was wishing for recognition. I was striving for what the world said I should be pursuing. It was time for a heart check.

To All Women and myself: allow God to give you purpose. Allow Him to love you. Seek Him first.