Worship

5-minute-friday-1 I’ve decided it’s time again for a short explanation on my Friday posts. Some 5MF-ers post the intro every week. Perhaps I should too. 🙂 Anyway, each Friday, Lisa-Jo gives us a prompt and we are to write about that prompt for five minutes. No longer. (Sometimes I cheat. It’s hard to stop once you’re rolling!) Unedited. (I at least run spell-check. I know. Total cheater.) Usually if I post on a Friday, it’s for Five-Minute-Friday. The image will clue you in. But so will clicking on it. Today’s word is: Worship.

Here we go!

When I was single, I understood worship as a lifestyle. But it mostly happened in my room, face on the floor, candles lit, tears streaming, songs pouring from my soul to my heart from my mouth. Uninterrupted. Intentional. Beautiful. Raw.

Then I got married. And… well, it can be a little awkward to be caught in the middle of a moment like that… but I still tried. But then life so quickly set in. Full-time jobs. Caring for a husband. Cooking meals, doing laundry, paying bills, getting groceries… I was only doing these things for one extra person… yet I still felt up to my elbows in chores. I remember resentfully and begrudgingly doing the dishes one night as a newlywed. I’m sure my frustration had little to do with the chore and more to do with the converging rivers of two separate people making life as one.

As my thoughts rumbled with grumbling and complaining to God, I heard Him whisper back, “This is worship.”

Humility-slap (If humility can slap).

I was humbled. But I immediately understood. As I submitted my life to marriage and the union of two people journeying together, caring for each other, doing their part to improve this world as one… sometimes my act of worship was going to be dishes. Or laundry. Or groceries. Each act of love spent loving another, especially my husband, was a sweet incense to the throne room of heaven.

It’s not always sensational.

Emotional.

Candle-lit.

Music-filled.

It’s not always obvious.

Dishes are just dishes… dirty, nasty, food-encrusted ceramic (or plastic) releasing its filth into the same soapy water that is clinging to my hands.

It’s just

not

fun.

Until I realize it’s not about dishes. It’s about providing a clean and loving atmosphere for my husband- the man God has gifted me. It’s about being humble enough and willing enough to get a little dirty for a good cause. It’s about being able to offer quality hospitality to whoever needs a meal or friendship. It’s about stewardship over each thing God gives us. Some people don’t even have a plate to eat on…

Who knew dishes could be more than soap and grime?

Then kids came along… and worship began to include story times, diaper changes, sleepless nights (filled with desperate prayers), bandaged wounds, taking in and adopting orphans, disciplining, training, correcting, feeding, more cooking, more laundry, more dishes, taxi-ing…

And sometime I forget that my life in those mundane moments is an opportunity for worship. A chance to dig in and see God’s goodness and kindness and tenderness and compassion- and praise Him for it. A chance to acknowledge, accept, and confess my weaknesses, my inadequacies, my failures- and re-claim my need for a Savior. THIS is worship.

Most of my worship happens in the normal, messy moments.

Only every now and then, under a steeple.

Transformational Thanksgiving

I have been the child who yelled out the injustices of my upbringing to a closed door- half hoping my parents heard what I really had to say, and half mortified that they might actually hear what I had to say.

The tables have turned.

I am now the parent on the other side of that door with a ranting child, loudly sharing opinions on fairness and right-parenting, proclaiming small-person authority to make the world right… at least in their own mind.

Thus, this post.

A week or so ago, one of my children was found in the midst of some natural consequences spawned by poor choices. This was evident to all, including to my child. Knowing that this “suffering” was the result of personal decisions was not enough to prevent the rant. My child went to their room, closed the door, and loudly began to whine about the many years of injustice, “like that time that dad…” and “It’s just not fair that…”

Remember that mingled feeling of mortification and glee that your actual thoughts might be heard? They’d been heard.

I opened the door.

“Really? You’re in this situation because of ‘the time that Dad…’? Oh no. If you want to throw a fit, throw a fit that sounds like this: ‘AH Man! Why didn’t I listen to Mom this morning when she warned me about the choices I was making?! BLAST! Why did I rush through that chore and leave it a mess? I wouldn’t be here right now if I’d only…’ THAT’S the fit you should be throwing!”

Silence.

Mortification.

Glee?

I closed the door and stood outside silently.

This child began again. Softly. Not taking my advice on the responsibility-claiming fit that I’d suggested. I wanted to run in there, throw my own fit, and force this mind to grasp the concept! Take responsibility, learn from your mistakes, and MOVE ON! Don’t find ways to blame it on everyone else! But alas, I knew my approach would not help.

Then it struck me.

Gratitude.

I learned a year or so ago that your brain can not possibly be anxious and grateful at the same time. Those two emotions occur in opposite sides of our brain and fight each other for the oxygen they need to function. This is also true for worry and worship. Can’t do them at the same time. Essentially, when you choose to be grateful, you join the tug-of-war in your brain in a battle-winning kind of way. You help drag the oxygen away from the worrying part of your brain and being grateful becomes easier. Oh believe me, the first seconds are a serious challenge- but the more oxygen that arrives, the easier gratitude will be.

All of this information came rushing back to me as I thought of my child- a child stuck in the ugly part of the brain. The only way I could effectively help this one get un-stuck would be to get ’em thinking gratefully.

I walked back in.

“Okay… you haven’t taken my advice on the kind of fit you should throw, right?” Shakes head. “Then I have a new assignment for you. I want you to write a list of fifty reasons that you are grateful for your dad. Let me know when you are done.”

Door closed.

This is what I got. (Click to enlarge)

No more ranting. No more raving. A heart changed. Gifts listed that my child is able to claim and name. Suddenly memories of a childhood not exclusively unjust (according to them) but fun trips, special outings, gifts, moments in time worth recapturing. And my child truly is grateful. SO grateful, that the paper is turned over and words are written that I wanted to hear from the beginning.

Gratitude.

It changes hearts. It changes minds. It changes lives.

Are there areas in your life that seem entirely bleak? Or other areas that cause in you the kind of worry and anxiety that lead to health or emotional disruptions?

Choose thankfulness.

And get your kids to choose thankfulness too!

*For a great book on how gratitude can change your life, read Ann Voskamp’s “1000 Gifts.”

Grateful for Gratitude

The last part of our bedtime routine, in my home, is prayer with and for the children.

Tonight, my three-year old son excitedly exclaimed that he would be praying for me and that I would be praying for his little sister. Oh, and that I would be starting first. I prayed for my daughter (and the other three of my children) and notioned that it was his turn.

“Dear Jesus, thank you for Mommy and my sister and the big kids and Daddy. Thank you for Auntie Laura and Auntie Zelda and Auntie Chris and her kids, Noah, Sam and Gabe. Thank you for….” and the list went on. After thanking God for the entire world, nearly every animal on the planet, and every item in his room, I realized that he had opened a book. As he turned the pages in the book (also on animals) he thanked God for whatever he saw on each page. Really, he was stalling to keep me from leaving the room. The Mommy in me wanted to close the book, kiss him goodnight, and finally have my own time!

Suddenly my brain-train switched tracks. Actually, his idea was brilliant! How many times have I had a poopy day (literally and figuratively) and had the hardest time being thankful for anything? How easily I could pull just about any book of my shelf (with pictures, of course) and begin to choose thankfulness for whatever I see! What a great solution to the gratefulness-block!

As if that weren’t reason enough, I was reminded of an event at my local MOPS group. Karen Wood, a woman with much experience in the Psychology field, came and spoke with us about the human brain. She taught us that it is impossible for the human brain to be grateful AND complaining at the same time. Those two occur in very separate areas of the brain and therefore, can’t be done simultaneously. Equally, your brain can not worship and worry at the same time, for the same reason. (Or be grateful and worry or worship and complain).

Try it. The next time you are in a grumbling mood, stop and begin to be thankful for things. Your life. Air. Water. Whatever. The oxygen in your brain will begin to flow to the part that is required for gratitude. Beautiful!

With all of that in mind, my son’s choice to pull out a book and be thankful for its contents (when he’d depleted his own bank of items) inspired me to remember how important it is to choose gratitude. Its mind-transforming. Literally.


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