The Bible talks a lot about the heart. And God has shown me a lot of my heart in the last few years. It's been kind of fun, in that, every area he wants me to change, he shows me how my heart has to change first.
So I'm not just trying to make crazy changes and stick with them. I am trying to truly change my attitude in that particular area.
The first area he demanded total change was in my spiritual life. And that does make sense, as the only way to make any truly permanent heart change is to be in the Word daily. So he worked on that for awhile. He showed me that he did not want me to just read it daily. He wanted me to crave it. It was my only real means to a relationship with him, and he wanted me to crave that relationship more then anything else. That is the only way to make daily Bible study a real priority, is to want it more then anything else. At first I was overwhelmed and felt positive that I could never want it that badly. But, over time, he really has changed my heart-with my mind following, to want a relationship with him more then anything. How many times have I made the right decisions about something, or chosen to have a good attitude about something, simply because I knew it would hinder our communication, and nothing is worth giving that up.
Next, he turned toward nutrition. After wading through today's 'health guru's' and fads and ideas, and finally being confident in what truly does nourish a body. I had to commit myself to the actual applying of that knowledge to our day to day eating. A battle, a huge battle, as most of us don't care much for the nourishing food. We'd much rather eat highly processed, chemical laden foods. So I turned my attention to trying to 'fix' some of our recipes. But, the problem is, our tongues are used to the processed tastes and textures, and the food that I really want us to eat just can not be forced to taste like Kraft Mac & Cheese and Ballpark Franks, or Wendy's chicken nuggets and fries. I tried, but to no avail. After some fumbling and frustration, God showed me that I/we needed a total overhaul of our nourishment. We needed to first realize how crappy the processed foods made us feel (last night we ate a bag of Doritos while watching The Shaggy Dog and we all felt pretty crummy afterward-woo hoo!). And then I needed to look for ways that introduce the nourishing foods in the most nourishing way, but ways we can also get used to. Suddenly, I'm in it for the long run. The battle won't be a year, but 10 years, and in a sense, the rest of our lives, as we'll always have the 'junk' out there to distract us.
I also, for the longest time, was trying to find 'short cuts' and ways to provide nourishing, inexpensive foods, without actually being home to make them. Duh! It can't happen. I was at church or working 3-4 mornings a week. And since Drew works 2nd shift, I wasn't about to cook a decent dinner for the picky kids who won't eat anything I offer anyway. So, for some odd reason, I found it frustrating and overwhelming trying to fix nourishing, balanced meals with such a full 'social' calendar. Well, God laid on my heart in November that I needed to stay home in the morning to homeschool Myia and to provide nourishment for the family. Since then, I have stayed home almost every morning, and we are finally starting to eat REAL food! It's amazing! Liking it is still another story of course, but at least I'm trying now! :) I figured out that I spend about an hour and a half on breakfast every morning (from when I get the bacon out of the freezer to when the last dish is put away-not concentrated by any means), 1 1/2-2 hours on lunch. From the time I cut the first onion to when the last dish is put away. And dinner is generally leftovers or PB&J/popcorn type of meal. So little time is spent on that. And, a major bonus, we've started doing daily devos with the kids and Drew and I do our own afterwards. We get an hour, most mornings, snuggled in bed reading and talking about the Bible. What could possibly be better then that?
I truly hope and pray that my kids will leave here as adults with the full knowledge and understanding of how spiritual and nourishing factors affect their bodies and minds. And I hope they will crave a relationship with God over everything else life has to offer. And the knowledge that the only way to serve God fully is to have the best physical health we can. I'm not saying that God can't use those who are in poor health, but the reality is that you can't go to the jungles of South America and teach others about him if you can't walk up a hill or sleep on a mat! It's not just spoiled preferences either. Paul instructed us more then once to care for our bodies. And I don't think it's so that we can live a comfortable, long selfish life. It's so that we can serve the Lord with our bodies as well.
After nutrition (I don't like that word-too scientific and cold), God turned my eyes and heart toward child rearing. My pastor suggested 2 books (How to Really Love Your Child, by Ross Campbell & Christian Child-Rearing and Personality Development, by Paul Meier)
that I read and that really got me started in my search to change my heart toward my children. I still am not where I need to be, heart wise, but I've come a LONG way. But, I'd get so frustrated with the kids over nothing. Or just have grumpy days when I did not feel like being kind or patient with them-and for no reason. And I hated it. Those were the days I yelled at every little thing, as I was feeling guilty for not dealing with the heart issues, that I knew were there. Parenting can be tough, it's daily, hourly and minutely. And life must go on, but the needs of the little ones must be met at the same time. And it's the same issues over and over again sometimes. Throw on top of that, the fact that you can not guaranteed the outcome, and it's downright burdensome.
But, God showed me that my whole attitude was wrong. I am not responsible for my children's final decisions in life. I am, however, charged with the duty of teaching them daily about God's character and love and discipline. I am required to train them up daily, to teach them good habits and to show them their wicked hearts. Since I am doing the same in myself, it's really not that difficult. I just need a 'heart overhaul' in the area. It's coming! I have truly come to see my children in a completely different light then before. They are my 'ministry' at the moment. They are the way God has chosen to allow me to serve him. And I wouldn't want it any other way.
This week, God has been overhauling my heart in regards to finances. It's about time! Geesh! I've gotten the most horrible attitude about spending. I 'need' it, so I charge it. It's hard not to in this society, and I succumbed to it.
I read two books over the last 2 weeks-'Financial Peace' and 'The Total Money Makeover', both by Dave Ramsey. He is a 'Christian' money guru. I have no way of judging his heart. And frankly, what he says makes sense for the majority of Americans. It's a worldly-wise way of taking care of yourself in today's economy, esp for college and retirement. But I have a hard time believing that a person who is living off the interest of his 5 million dollar 'nest egg' is glorifying God. But, at the same time, I can see many ways how it could be used to glorify God, depending on the person's heart and where God is leading them. So I'm not really dissing the guy. He taught me a LOT. Well, he enforced a lot of what I was learning anyway. And give me hope and a plan to get out of debt.
I had decided at the end of last year, that the only way to get out of debt, and stay there, is to cut up the credit card. That would be super, super hard. But, I am more convinced then ever, that it is necessary to do so. Not only that, but I feel more strongly then ever, that debt is not acceptable in any format. It's not Biblical (Paul speaks against owing others, and Proverbs has a lot to say on the subject as well), and it's downright dangerous. Houses are the obvious exception, although I'm hoping if we continue to live the normal 'American' life, that rather then buy a house with a loan, we will save up and buy with cash. I truly believe it's possible. Although not without hard work and sacrifice, and patience.
God has done an overhaul of my financial mind as well. I didn't think that 2 months ago. We tried to buy a house with no money down(this was in April of 2006-not last year). We could NOT afford it. And man am I glad God took it away from us! I was mad at the time, but so grateful now. I want to do things the right away. Because, in the end, it's always best! I'm ready to do whatever is necessary to live within our means and to pay off our debt. And after that, to save up for an 'emergency fund' and a house. I'm not opposed to having a retirement fund or college funds either. As long as they don't run our lives and we still are giving to others. Of course, we could gather a smaller 'nest egg' and live in a 3rd world country off what little interest it provides and serve the Lord while living very simply.... :)
It's very exciting to see God work in my heart and life. It used to be 'heart surgery', but it's become more of a makeover in the last 5 years. Which is so exciting for me to see! It's not nearly as painful, and it has more obvious results. The best of all worlds!