Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Do I Listen With Talking Ears?

Last week during prayer time, I reflected on that question. Do I listen with talking ears? A friend sent me a text later asking where I got that from. I got to report back to her that it came from my own brain. For once, I had a profound thought! Check back in 364 days for the next one!

I figured I'd share a bit more about it since I know it's something that I need to focus on again and again.

The Thought for the Day that morning was from the gospel of John chapter 5, versus 39 and 40: 
You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.

Jesus is pointing out that these folks who knew scripture backwards and forwards were using it to serve themselves instead of hearing the truth that the words held. He goes on to say that they claim the words of Moses are true, but here those words are, in the flesh, right in front of them and they are not seeing it. 

They were reading what they wanted to read and hearing what they wanted to hear. 

Are we guilty of this?

My takeaway was to reflect on all the times I've "listened" to God through a sermon or the words in the Bible  with "talking ears" or "self-serving ears" instead of "hearing ears". Every morning I listen to Food For the Journey with Sr. Ann Shields. It comes on around 5:10am. She reflects on the daily readings and often times something she says will be the spring board for my reflection during the Thought for the Day segments. So I'll often find myself listening to her, trying to think of how I could reiterate her sentiments or lesson. Then I knock myself in the head and say, "Abby! Just listen! Don't worry about how to share this on the air. Just hear it for yourself." Who knows, maybe the message she's sharing on a particular day isn't meant for others, it's meant for Abby. 

This idea of "talking ears" also applies to hearing God's word with the intent of forcing it upon other people. If you listen so you can spit it back out to prove a point, you are probably not hearing it with the right heart. Wouldn't it be much more effective if you take those words and lessons into your heart and become a walking, talking example of them instead of just a parrot? It is easy for people to detect a phony. If the words that come out are empty or from a place of pride and judgement, then they are just a playback. However, when they are knitted into your core being, when you hear them with ears eager to learn and accept, they become not just arranged letters, but truth and life and love. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Rest Your Head, Little One. Just Not There.

Warning: Gross factor of about a 2.5 ahead!

I've heard grumblings aplenty from moms regarding the lack of privacy when it comes to time in the ladies room. Yesterday I experienced this on a new level. Liam likes to walk around the bathroom but I usually stop him when he tries to head towards the back of the toilet. That's my limit! Well, yesterday while I was going to the bathroom he must've either felt very loving or very tired because be decided he needed to rest his head on my lap. I was slightly disgusted, but more flattered.

There comes a point in every person's life when the gross outweighs the love. I love my mom and my husband, but resting my head in their "lap" is just not gonna happen!! And I have a feeling they are just fine with this. But there is something so beautiful and pure about the connection a child feels to his mother. It's so strong that there is no other thought of what could be proper or expected at this moment. He just wants to be by mom! Who cares if she is mid-pee!

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Sacrificial Lent

Considering a pregnancy takes three-quarters of a year, chances are, you're going to be pregnant for a particular season or holiday. One season that sticks out for me in both of my pregnancies though, is Lent. I was newly pregnant for the Lenten season of 2011 and this time I am in my third trimester. Both times, I feel like God has been sending me a message about how we act when that little life is growing inside of us.

A couple of days ago I was chatting with Julie Musselman, one of our Mom Squad Bloggers. I'd asked her what she gave up for Lent and how it was going. We chatted for a second about pregnant women being exempt from the fasting portion of the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting & almsgiving. My thought to share with her was that I feel like Lent is a great time to be pregnant because it keeps the self-centeredness at bay. An expectant mother comes in a very close second to a bride in the race for most irrational women on earth. In both cases, we give excuses - stress, most important day of her life (for the bride) and hormones, discomfort, "I'm carrying a life here!" (for the pregnant one). Yes, one of those scenarios seems a little more excusable, but it's still not nice! (acknowledging my use of a 5 year old's word)

I have really enjoyed the very gentle reminder during these 40 days that it's SO not all about me. God is kind; He doesn't whack me over the head with it or send a messenger with a snarky comment to put me in my place. It's just that constant nudge that while I might be "exempt" in a way, I still need to focus on others more than myself and that even more important than taking care of the human that is kicking me from the inside out at this very moment, is the need to take care of my relationship with Him.

Julie's reassuring words were, "You know that you ARE sacrificing more than ever at this time." I agreed, aware that my rear end & thighs were expanding and my back was aching, but my reply was, "Yes, but I don't need to make everyone else sacrifice along with me and make their lives miserable!"

The perfect example of this self-sacrifice even in the moments where it is not expected is Mary. She was in her first trimester and traveled to be with Elizabeth to help her with her final months of pregnancy. It's nice to think that maybe since she was going to endure some serious emotional agony ("And a sword will pierce your very heart", Luke ch 2), that God had mercy on her and neglected to "bless" her with morning sickness, but chances are, she had at least a few moments of queasiness. She rode on a donkey for goodness sake!

She put aside her own needs and aches and took the long journey to serve. What a beautiful way to experience this season of sacrifice!