Doug and I are working on our budget. I worked hard to figure out exactly how much money we have left over after all the initial expenses (mortgage, utilities, internet, groceries, etc.). What’s left over goes towards less necessary expenses and I just put it all together in one lump sum. Doug didn’t appreciate my effort the way I wanted him to. He doesn’t want it to be one lump sum that we just spend willy-nilly because that money still has to pay for things like diapers and allergy medicine. During the course of this conversation I used two “colorful” words in anger.
Now, I always attributed my occasional slip to a lack of self-control. A few hours after this conversation while cleaning up the kitchen God grabbed hold of me and the gist of it was, “You use those words because you know Doug doesn’t like it.” I purposefully say things to push his buttons when I’m frustrated with him because he isn’t behaving how I think he should behave. Oops. That’s so much worse than an accidental slip.
I woke up in time this morning to go work out. That means, I woke Kyler up, then fed, changed and clothed her, and repeated the process with Matthew. I packed our bags, grabbed water for the two that needed it and a snack for Matthew. Tidied the kitchen so I wouldn’t come home to a mess, got the kids into the car and drove to Zilker Park where I work out with some other moms. I got out of the car opened up the trunk and…found a drill, cirular saw and a jigsaw. NOT what I’m expecting. Doug had borrowed my car and replaced my beautiful BOB stroller with items he needed for work. He hadn’t mentioned it to me, and I hadn’t asked.
So, I decide not to be mad or yell at Doug because it really was an accident. But I call him anyway. My justification is “Well, he needs to know this happened so it doesn’t happen again, and next time he’ll remember to tell me he’s taken the stroller out because I always assume it’s just in the back of my car.” But again, a little later, God checked my heart and said “You want Doug to feel guilty.” I wanted him to appreciate how much it cost me to get out of the house the way I did and then to have to turn around and give it all up because of him. Oops.
Five years into marriage and I’m still selfish. So my heart is evil. And somehow that’s comforting. Because if this marriage is going to last I need to remember that it is by the grace of God, putting myself in Him and allowing Him to love Doug through me. The above is what I do on my own.
The past couple of weeks I’ve been browsing country radio stations in Austin. I don’t have them saved in my car settings. The only country music on my iPod are the Dixie Chicks and a few other songs that I like. But the heat of summer is taking my back to my childhood, where country music low-lighted the backdrop.
I first became aware of this genre of music through my dad. He and my mom split up when I was in the third grade. For awhile he continued to live in Texas, but when work took him to Florida I was devastated. Country music became a way for me to connect with him despite the distance. Divorce sucks. It destroys families and messes up the kids. But I was on the more fortunate side. My dad didn’t just disappear. He continued, as best as he was able, to be a part of our lives. He sent me tapes of his favorite songs and artists. And I listened to them, trying to enter his world. During this time I found the song Daddy’s Hand, by Holly Dunn. For those of you unfamiliar, this is the quintessential father/daughter song. This became our song and we danced to it at my wedding.
When I hear country music I remember the summers my sisters and I spent in Florida with our dad. Swimming, horse back riding and, of course, country western dancing flow together in one long stream. It was at one of these dances that I first slow danced with a boy. It was the summer between fifth and sixth grade. The slow dance was arranged the typical way dances are arranged at this age: he sent a friend to ask me, I sent my sister back to him with my reply. We met shyly on the dance floor with I Swear playing in the background. We never talked the rest of the night.
That was the last summer for a long time I was able to enjoy country music. I entered the rebellious teenage years and the effects of the divorce began to “bear fruit” in my life. I was hurt, and unfortunately unaware that hurt most often turns to anger when it’s not dealt with. I lashed out at my family, and sought fulfillment in relationships with the opposite sex. Luckily God protected me from myself by making the boys available reasonably well-behaved young men for teenage boys. There were definitely some bad judgment calls and things that needed to be repented of later, but I only had two boyfriends and I married the second one. He more than anything kept me from becoming way more messed up than I would otherwise have been (thanks to the sovereignty of God in both our lives). What does this have to do with country music? I whole-heartedly and completely rejected anything country during my teenage years. It summed up my relationship with my dad so completely in my mind and I was so angry with him that I wanted to cut all ties.
But now I’m in this third season of life–adulthood. And I find myself coming back to country music; remembering the good things in my childhood and looking forward to the years to come. So maybe this post isn’t so much about my relationship with country music as it is about the relationship with my dad. He came down to visit us the past two summers and those memories are closer to what I remember as I child and less like the summers during my turbulent teenage years. I’ve been hurt. But instead of being angry, I’m learning to forgive. I’m also seeing how much he loves my kids and I’m reminded of how much he loves me. And I’m getting a glimpse of how he was with me when I was a toddler.
So this summer, along with tank tops, BBQ and sweet iced tea, I’m enjoying some good old country music.
May 17, 2009 | By: Bill Walsh
Praise God for the times of effective ministry that he allows us to experience. If you’re like me you get excited when you see the fruitfulness of any ministry that God calls you to do. It is a thrill to see him at work, putting to use the gifts and callings that he has granted to us for the cause of the Kingdom.
But in Luke 10 Christ challenges us to test our own hearts, by examining what we rejoice in most.
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven…. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10: 17-20)
We easily slip into over-emphasizing results rather than rejoicing most in our redemption. According to the Lord, the deepest rejoicing that we should seek is the joy of the impact that the Gospel has made on our own hearts and lives.
Some questions to regularly ask ourselves:
- Do I rejoice that God, by some mystery to me, chose me before the foundation of the world, due to nothing in me, and wrote my name in his Book of Life?
- Do I rejoice that God, from the beginning, had me in mind when he was carrying out his plan to redeem a people for the glory of his name?
- Do I rejoice that God sent his Son on a mission from heaven to become the Word made flesh on my behalf, in order to save me from my sins?
- Do I rejoice that Christ lived perfectly without sin, fulfilling the law in my place, in order that its righteous requirements might be fulfilled in me by grace through faith?
- Do I rejoice that the Lord Jesus bore my sins in his body on the tree, so that I could receive forgiveness for every sin that I have or will commit?
- Do I rejoice that day by day, these truths are sinking down into my soul and, as C.S. Lewis says, re-working my house; re-building, re-furnishing, preparing me for greater works ahead and ultimately for a greater Kingdom ahead.
- Do I rejoice in counting everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord who is bringing me to God?
Why does Christ tell us to rejoice first that our names are written in heaven? Might it be because he knows that the mustard seed of faith that he plants in us is what opens our eyes and lives to the Gospel in the first place? It is only because he chose us for salvation that we even have the possibility of reaching out and being a part of his work in bringing others to salvation and spiritual growth.
True ministry effectiveness and impact springs from a heart radically changed by the Gospel. No God-granted mysterious seed of the Gospel in us—no tree of lifelong fruitfulness.
Lord, make us aware and vigilant for where our deepest rejoicing lies. Keep us focused on allowing the amazing truth of your redemption to shape our hearts while we labor in your field.