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Monday, August 29, 2011

"Error ... please reboot ... "

What a difference a week makes! The second week of school was much better than the first. The kids have settled into a routine with practices, games, homework ... "the parents" like the routine! 

This year is different for us. The school provided Mac Books to each student in middle school and high school. This changes the dynamic in our home. The kids sit on the sofa, noses pressed to the screens of their laptops, furiously facebooking or i-chatting with their friends. They take these "precious communication devices" everywhere with them. It's their social connection to the world. They rush through meals, inhaling the wonderful meal their Dad has prepared just to get back to the laptop.

It's not just about the kids, oddly enough. While they are "Mac-booking," their dad or I are usually on our laptop, tablet or Android phones "doing OUR thing ... emailing, fantasy football, etc." I picture what it would look like if someone walked in and saw us all sitting in the same room, not speaking or interacting with each other ... how silly we must look. Even I will admit, it has changed the style of communication and drawn attention away from things that are more important.

While technology has made our lives easier (we use the cell phones for shopping lists, GPS, texting the children), in some respects, it has made them more difficult. It has changed the way our children write and speak to others. They feel like they cannot function without the internet and now, they NEED their laptops to accomplish their classwork at school and their homework.

Many things have come along through the years that have affected the way we worship and interact with the Lord. These new technologies and types of worship have almost become a distraction. My own cell phone rang during church a few weeks ago ... I was embarrassed.

People now attend church and expect to be entertained ... they tweet during the service! You can find a tab on church websites called "media" and download a podcast of the sermon. I really miss the days when going to church was all about Jesus and not about being entertained and/or how much technology you can incorporate into your worship service (or our home).

Have these technologies become idols? Most definitely ... what do we sacrifice to these new idols? Time, family, communication, money, respect ... the list is endless.

My stepdaughter asked her classmates which they would rather give up ... a foot or the internet? The concensus was each student at her lunch table would rather lose a foot. Now, really, no one is going to sacrifice a limb, but perhaps this is a good "wake up call." We need to go back to what's really important and focus on what real sacrifice really is ... ouch! ... not a foot or the internet, but laying ourselves on the altar and making God the center of our homes once again ... not the Mac Book.

1 John 5:21
... guard yourselves from idols.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"That's My Jen!"

There is no other way to say it, being a step mom is tough. There is nothing easy about it. I knew going in, it would be an interesting ride. The kids never cease to remind me that I am are not the "real mom" (not overtly, but it's just there). When Paul and I were married, the children and I said vows to each other that went something like this ...

"Jennifer, do you promise to be a faithful wife to Paul, a spiritual leader of your home and also a patient, loving mother to Joe, Olivia and Sam, caring for them and providing for them as your own? Do you promise to be their strength and their emotional support, loving them with all your heart and making Christ the center of your home?

And now, Joe, Olivia and Sam, do you promise to love and respect Jennifer? Do you promise to support this marriage and your family? Do you promise to accept the responsibility of being their children, and to encourage them and support them in your new life together?"

We all said, "I do." But did we really? When I re-read those vows, I have to admit, that's a pretty tall order from every angle. "Patient, loving mother? Love and respect?!"

Following a relaxing, family summer vacation on the beach at the end of July, we faced the first day of school on August 15. It was, in a word, CHAOS. I had been looking forward to the beginning of school. We would all get back on some sort of schedule. But, when it hit, it was like "the perfect storm." We were controlled by "the schedule" and the children all felt their "stuff" was most important. There were demands, disrespect and yes ... many tears. As the step mom, my heart was breaking. I thought I was handling everything so well ... breathe in, breathe out ... breathe in, breathe out ... I even went to work early for some quiet time. What happened to that "patient, loving mother" and the vows of "love and respect?"

Much like a marriage and even our relationship with God, sometimes, we let the chaos of our lives consume us and the love and respect part? It goes right out the window. The good news is that God is still in control and loves us beyond measure, even when life, and everyone around us seem completely out of control.

As for being a step mom? It's week 2 of school and the kids come home from the "real mom's" house today. I'll let you how it goes. Even with all that happened last week, I have to admit that being a step mom is still a "pretty cool gig." And, when we reach new heights of crazy, as the vows said, I still "love them with all my heart." The benefits outweigh the craziness ... smiles, hugs, high fives, knuckles, cuddles and laughter.

Sam still can't remember the word "step mom," so he introduces me and says, "that's My Jen." I think he believes everyone has a "My Jen" (he's only 5)!  So, I'll be content to be "My Jen," and continue to pray every day that we will all be respectful and mindful of each other in our home. I know that when life is running amok, "My God" reigns and sits on His throne ... and smiles when, much like when He calmed the stormy seas, He calms "My Jen's" chaotic world.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Love Like "the Wind ... "

We are discussing "loving one another" in Sunday School ... agreeably one of the most important, yet difficult commandments. Even the Pastor admits it's not his "best" subject.

Recently, I had a "theological discussion" with my brother -in-law about the Holy Spirit. I reminded him that the Holy Spirit is like the wind ... you can't see the wind ... but you can see the affects of the wind. You cannot see the Holy Spirit, but you can see the affects of the Holy Spirit.

It just struck me yesterday. This is exactly how to best illustrate God's love. Scripture tells us that we cannot see God. However, we can see God, His love and the affects of His love in His Children ... much like the wind. The only way some people will ever see God is through us.

If we are not showing His love, how will those who are  lost ever really "see" God?