Monday, March 31, 2008

What Really Matters

If you've read my blog for any time at all, you know I used to home school my two boys. It was a wonderful five years, but it was definitely stressful. This year, they are both attending our parochial school. It was a big adjustment (and sometimes still is), but overall, they are doing well.

Since the time we made the decision to send them to school, I have had many people ask, "Well, now that they are going to be gone all day, what are you going to do with yourself? Are you going to get a job? You're going to be so lonely there by yourself. Won't you get bored?" I have to admit, too, that these are some of the same questions I asked myself! However, I decided to take it slowly. I haven't been "just" a wife and mom for over five years, since I was also "full-time teacher".

My life has settled into a routine of sorts, with laundry, housecleaning, and groceries taking up most of my daytime hours. Evenings are spent helping the boys with homework and projects, church activities, and preparing for the next day. (Soon, there will be baseball practice added into this mix.) Certainly a fairly full schedule, but nothing overly exciting!

So, I began looking for a job that might work with all our schedules. I first considered a position at their school. However, my computer skills and the demand of the job were both deterrents. Then, I came across a job at the local library: outreach assistant. Which basically was someone to help with the Bookmobile and other associated programs our library offers. It sounded really good, too. The pay was great, and the hours: only 20 per week. Perfect, right? So I filled out the application, and was given an interview. I showed up early, and was handed a job description to look over while I waited for the interview to begin. Well, that was the clincher. "Must be available evenings and weekends." The only time I have to spend with my husband and kids. Hmm. I did go ahead with the interview, and apologized to the three women who conducted the interview. As I told them, my family has to come first. I left the interview with a sense of relief. But something else, too...

The next day, when my boys came home from school all full of stories from their day, I was so thankful to be there, sharing that moment. The first thought that crossed my mind was: I wouldn't trade this job for anything in the world! But still...

That short job interview did something for me. It reminded me that I am an intelligent adult. It reminded me that I could get a job if I really had to. It reminded me that there is more to the world than laundry, meals, etc. But it also reminded me that I am right where God wants me!

In the Catholic church, we have something called "vocations". Many see that as a calling to priesthood, being a nun, or the "religious life" (monks, etc.). And it is. But it also includes those who are married and/or parents. That is a vocation! Truly! We are in a time of praying for vocations. That includes exactly what I am doing each and every day. I pray that more women would sense this as a true calling from God. For I have felt a renewed sense of that in my spirit over the past couple of weeks. What a wonderful privilege to be called to the vocation of motherhood.

Don't get me wrong. I know there are many women who work an outside job and do an excellent job of parenting their children. I just pray that the children and their marriage are their top priority.

I am so thankful for the place God has given me, and allowed me the opportunity to be the mother to our two sons...and a wife to my wonderful husband. That's what really matters.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An Image from the Past

Most of my readers know about the tornado that destroyed my hometown of Greensburg, Kansas, on May 4, 2007. I grew up on a farm just a few miles north of this town.

I found this photo of the hair salon where I used to get my hair cut. (And my mom was a regular patron, before the tornado.) To know I sat in one of those The shock still hasn't worn off, even though it has been almost a year. I haven't seen the devastation in person yet. Possibly this summer. I'm not sure how I'll handle it when I do see it for the first time.

If you want to view updates on the progress of the town's rebuilding efforts, I have links on my sidebar.

E-Clips Hair Salon

Easter Memories

My Easter weekend was quite interesting, to say the least. There were a variety of events at church, as well as situations friends were experiencing. The weekend had some extreme highs and lows.
There was the Easter vigil service, in which many were baptized, confirmed, and received into the Church. I cried tears of joy!
There was the prayer request for a young baby. Her mother discovered a growth on the child's leg. The doctors have diagnosed it as cancer.
There was the excitement of Sunday morning, and the elation of celebrating the resurrection of the Lord.
There was the devastating news that a friend's grandson committed suicide. A young man with a bright future...
There was the delight in seeing a friend's 4-day-old baby girl, born just before Easter. A tiny little rosebud; a reflection of God's glory. A reminder that there is always life after death...
I am so thankful for the empty tomb. There are so many struggles and trials in this life that would simply be unbearable if I did not have the assurance that He is risen.
Thanks be to God.

Monday, March 24, 2008

He Is Risen! Alleluia!

"But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.' "
Matthew 28:5, 6

I hope that your family had a most blessed Resurrection Sunday. Our entire weekend was busy, but full of reminders of the great wonder of Christ's resurrection.

Rejoice, dear friends, for He is risen!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

"But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law..."

" redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons."
Galatians 4:4, 5


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Feeling "Bugged"

Some type of "bug" has had me down all week. I'll be back when I feel a bit better.

Keep me in your prayers!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Judge Not...

"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."
(John 8:7b)

I'm sure most of us are familiar with the story from John chapter 8. The Pharisees and scribes, ever on the lookout for a way to trick Jesus, presented a woman to Him. A woman caught "in the very act" of adultery. There was no doubt that she was guilty. No question of innocence here. (Although I've always wondered why the man was not brought forward as well. The Law required both guilty parties to be punished.)

So now, what would Jesus do? Would He break the Law by saying she was simply free to go? Would He do the "righteous" thing and begin the stoning Himself? Would he question her? How would He deal with this sinner?

And what did He do? He wrote in the dirt! Some have speculated that perhaps He was writing down the sins of those gathered. Some have suggested that He may have been writing out the Ten Commandments. Others have surmised that He possibly made a list of those in the crowd who had been with her before. I really don't know what He wrote. I just know that it wasn't the reaction they expected. They wanted action! Their righteous indignation would settle for nothing less!

Ah, but Jesus saw through their false piety. He knew their hearts. And He saw a broken, repentant woman before Him.

"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her..." Ouch. Of course, there was not a man among those in her "jury" who could lay claim to complete innocence. True enough. None of them could stand as true judge over this woman. The one person in the entire crowd who had that distinction was Jesus alone. He was the only one without sin.

As the rocks thudded to the ground, and the men slowly shuffled off in shame, the woman must have been amazed. But even more amazing were the words from this kind Stranger:

"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

Her only words recorded in Scripture: "No one, Lord."

And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again."

This is all we know of the story. Does this woman become a disciple of Christ? Does she later join the others in mourning His death on the cross? Is she in the crowd on the day of His ascension? Does she stand among those gathered on the day of Pentecost? We don't know for sure.

What we do know is that this woman came face to face with what grace really means: unmerited favor. In herself, she had nothing. She was clearly a sinful woman. Yet Jesus gave her no words of condemnation; only words of love and grace. Forgiveness was hers for the taking.

I think I have always loved this story due to my joy at seeing the Pharisees and scribes get another of Jesus' "in your face" type lessons. But I don't think that is what we're supposed to learn from this encounter.

We could all stand in the place of that woman. We have all been caught "in the very act" of some type of sin, haven't we? Yet the only One who could condemn us chooses instead to offer us His grace and forgiveness.

What do we offer to those around us who are living lives of "the very act?" Do we offer a cold shoulder of righteous indignation and judgment? Do we patronize them and give them the privilege of our presence? Or do we truly offer them a message of Christ's love, grace, and forgiveness...the same things He has so freely given us?

Too often, I feel like the elder brother in the story of the prodigal son, complaining to my Father: "Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid (goat), that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!"

And in His great love, God responds, "[Daughter,] you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found." (Luke 15:29-32)

As a child of God, may I be as willing as my Lord to stand on the side of grace and mercy.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Two Days Until Afghan Delivery!

As some of you may remember from several months ago, Laura Spradlin, at Sugar Bunny Boulevard, started a project called, "Rebuilding Greensburg--Block by Block." The idea was for people to donate afghan squares, which Laura and a team of volunteers would assemble into afghans. These afghans will be delivered to the tornado victims in Greensburg, KS (my home town). I received the following e-mail from Laura:

Joni, this is gonna be quick but I wanted to be sure that you know we're doing an afghan delivery on Saturday March 8th at the First Baptist Church there in Greensburg. My contact person is Pastor Marvin George.

Please let your family know about this and let me know of any names of people that you know will NOT be able to attend the event on Saturday so that I can be sure they get afghans delivered that day!
Thank you so much for everything you've done to support and encourage me during this project. May you be blessed in every thing that you do. :)
Laura Spradlin


If you need more information, the link above will take you right to her website.

THANK YOU LAURA, and thanks to all the people across the nation and around the world who were a part of this great project!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Dignity of Human Life

I recently read a disturbing story. It was a firsthand account of an African American man's experience. The thing that most disturbed me wasn't that it happened in recent years--though that in itself is quite upsetting. But the thing that bothered me the most was that it happened at all.

It seems he was dining with another gentleman. In the midst of their conversation, another man, unknown to both of them, called the author "boy." In the African American experience, for a man to be called "boy" by a white man is a very derogatory and demeaning statement. It is to say, "I am white, so I am a man. You are not, so you are just 'a boy'." Even as I read the words, I was angered. I was ashamed. I wish I could apologize to the author for words spoken by another of my race. The author handled the situation with the utmost dignity, and, consequently, preserved his own Christian testimony in the midst of a very trying situation.

The point of it all is that, no matter the color of a person's skin, they are a PERSON. They are created by GOD--and in His image! That alone is enough to give them dignity!

I hear the terms "pro-life" and "pro choice" tossed around a lot these days, especially in terms of political stands. But what does it really mean to be pro-life?

To me it means that we honor the dignity of all human life, no matter the color of the person's skin, their age, their mental capabilities, their religious preference, etc. I do not condone the homosexual lifestyle. But I do recognize that every single person entangled in it was still created in God's image. I do not agree with adultery. But I still recognize that both individuals are still worthy of dignity. I did not enjoy seeing my husband's grandmother go through the years of sickness, memory loss, and deteriorating health. But we still loved and honored her for the very life she had lived and the fact that as long as He gave her breath, God had a reason for her continued life. I don't agree with the tenets of the Muslim religion of Islam. But I still realize that every one of those men, women, and children was created in His image, too. I am appalled by the tragedies caused by murderers. But their times are still in God's hands. Do I believe they should be punished? Of course. Do I believe they should be murdered? No. My skin is lily white. Yet I know that every human being on this planet, no matter the color of their skin, was still made in the image of God. (Besides, God is spirit. Who decided He was white???)

I know that these could be considered controversial statements. It's sad to me that it is so. As a mother, I know how much I care for my two boys. So how can I think any less of the God who created them, me, and all other people? Why should I think that He cares more for the preservation of my life than He cares for the life of any other single person on earth?

When we say we are pro-life, it should mean ALL life. It doesn't just mean the life of the unborn or the elderly, though it certainly does mean them. It means ALL human life.

Just some thoughts of my own...I welcome your thoughts, too.

" much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men."
(Romans 12:18)

"The Golden Rule" by Norman Rockwell