Pouring In-Pouring Out

2014-07-08 12.22.38

I have had the best time with my girls the past two weeks.  As we await the finishing of our home in our little furnished apartment, we are finding we take more time to be together, do together.  In all honesty, sometimes just to get out of the little furnished apartment, but none the less.  Last week we drove to the northern part of Arkansas to visit one of our favorite people and her precious new baby girl.  For me, the trip was almost overwhelming.  Many, many emotions surfaced, but the greatest of these was love.

You see, this favorite person has been a part of lives since she was in 7th grade.  Hard to believe and a part of the story that left me feeling a little overwhelmed about my age!  My husband and I began working with the youth in our church shortly after we were married.  I lucked out and got this incredible group of girls for 7th grade Sunday School.  I was blessed to have them again in 9th grade! During this same time period my husband and I were going through infertility issues, the death of his mother, and health issues with my mother.  All that to say, I wasn’t at my best every Sunday.  But this incredible group of girls rallied around me and for every ounce of love I poured into them, they poured it right back on me seven-fold.  We ALL learned a great deal about prayer and in many ways this group of girls was my accountability group.  When I wanted to scream, when I wanted to give up on God and answered prayers, I knew I had to stay strong, hold to my faith and have hope.  I owed it to this group of girls.  You can rest assured the day I got to tell them I was not only pregnant, but pregnant with multiples we ALL cried.  When the two precious twin daughters were delivered early on December 29, 1998 that group of girls beat everyone to the hospital.  Within months, they were not only pouring love back into me, but they wrapped themselves like a little army around my precious miracles and held on tight.  Two in particular, became a part of their families.  And right along with them, came their siblings and parents.  Together these two young girls, best of friends, became our “official” babysitters.  Believe it or not, I left my two premature babies in their care at 4 months.  They were only 14!  I look back now and wonder what I was thinking!  The truth is, I never doubted their abilities, their love for my girls.  I knew deep in my heart special, life-long bonds would be formed.  And that is exactly what happened.

The picture above is one of those two precious, now young women.  She is with my daughters and her three month old bundle of joy.  We got to babysit for her.  Even as I write this my eyes well up with tears, tears of joy.  I’m not sure anyone else but us will really know all that picture holds.  It is a picture of miracles.  It is a picture of pure, unconditional love.  It is a picture of what it means to pour into others, filling them, so they can in turn pour out into others.  It is a picture of the mentoring cycle come full circle.  It is a picture of what it means to be a Christian and to love like Christ.

If you are a young mom I pray today you will consider expanding your circle to include a young babysitter or two.  Trust.  Have faith.  Think more about the investment into relationships than the cost.  If you are yearning for children and/or struggling with infertility, trust God to answer your prayers according to His will.  And as you wait, love.  Pour into someone or a group of someones. Don’t let Satan use your hurt, sorrow and struggles to squelch your ability to love and minister.  I promise, when we pour out, God has a way of pouring it right back into us.  And that is how we carry on. That is how we can face the sorrows and struggles still to come.  That is how we handle the answers.  It’s all about relationship.  It’s all about loving others.

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Average: Perfectly Acceptable to Me

Average:   a level that is typical of a group, class, or series : a middle point between extremes.  

The above is “average” as defined in the Webster dictionary.  Nothing extraordinary.  A simple word.  Why then do we as a culture, as parents, gasp at the very utterance of the word?  Why has “average” become something negative, looked down upon?  Why this drive to excellence-not just for ourselves, but for our children?  There is this never ending push, striving for excellence.  One can no longer just play ball in the backyard and make the school team.  One can no longer take instrument lessons from the sweet lady down the street and expect an opportunity in the school orchestra or a chance to obtain a scholarship.  One can no longer take “regular” classes at school and even dream of getting into the best college and receive financial aide.  Everything, everything seems to be about achieving excellence, being accelerated.  A 4.0 GPA is to be frowned upon. Now we demand or expect a 5.6 GPA and our 18 year old children to enter college as Sophomores!

What happened to average?  Average is really all I want.  It is perfectly acceptable to me.  Especially as a parent.  I would love to think my kids are “a middle point between extremes”.  I want my children to be more focused on WHO they are, than WHAT they are.

As I pondered this thought, that average is perfectly acceptable, I turned to scripture.  What does God expect of us?  No place in scripture does God ask for excellence.  Not one place in scripture does God say we are to perform at a higher standard than everyone else.  Quite the contrary.  Repeatedly in scripture God says we are to be humble, “the least of these shall inherit”, and the last shall be first.  He told us the rich man was not greater than the widow who gave her one mite.  God didn’t call men of wealth or position or of education to be a part of the inner circle to walk with His Son on this earth.  And the few who did have some means or success in their “careers” He asked to walk away from it all.  God did not send His Son to be born in a five star resort, a midst the royalty of the day.  He chose a young girl, of little means, to bare His son.  He sent her on a donkey to a small village town, to give birth to her son in a stable, surrounded by sheep, goats and donkeys.

I think average is perfectly acceptable to God.  I believe He wants me and my children to do everything we do to the best of our abilities and “as for Him”.  But, I still think He finds average perfectly acceptable, in fact desired.  God doesn’t want me striving for earthly success.  He doesn’t want me to strive for position or wealth.  God wants me to strive for Him.  He asks that I yearn for Him, for wisdom.  He asks that I earnestly seek Him.  He asks that I persevere and run the race.  He doesn’t ask me to win the race.  He just asks that I run it and I run it with my eyes on Him.

That is all I want of and for my children.  I want them to be willing to spend more time seeking God than they spend seeking straight A’s.  I want them loving Him with their whole beings-heart, soul and mind (Matthew 23:37).  Secondly, I want them to allow that love to spill over into others (Matthew 23:38).

Does this mean I wont’ challenge my children?  Does this mean a C average in school is all I expect?  No.  I expect them to work hard, to give everything they do their best effort. But, if the choice is between making the team only if they invest 5-6 hours per week in expensive, private coaching, the answer is “NO.”  If taking AP and college concurrent courses means they can’t attend Wednesday night worship, work to sacrifice and save for a mission trip, or engage in missions in their community, then the AP and college concurrent courses won’t make the cut in our house.  Average will be just fine.

When I stand, when they stand, before Christ at the judgement seat and are asked, “Did you love me?  Did you really love me?” I want to, I want them to, be able to say, “Yes, Lord I loved you above all else.  I loved you so much your loved spilled over into others and they too learned to love you.”

More than ever I am convinced it is OK for me to accept average.  I challenge you to accept average.  What are you and/or your children missing out on as you chase after excellence/success as defined by the world?  Will it matter when you die?  Does it honor God?  Is it a means of loving Him, worshiping Him?  If not, could you give it up and refocus those monies, time and energy on Him?

Average-it’s perfectly acceptable.