Tuesday, September 15, 2015

When You Pray About Your First-World-Problems

My pre-workout brain teaser.
There is so much to be legitimately upset about, but last week, the thing that brought me down, was a first-world-problem.

It wasn’t that Burger King no longer offers honey-mustard dressing, or that I had to spend the first three minutes of my workout untangling my earbuds.

I was moping around because I lost my wedding ring.

On Kurt’s birthday.

That night, I gave myself a vigorous scolding, the kind I usually save for the boys: “Well, if you can’t keep track of that, you don’t deserve another one! And on Kurt’s birthday!! Nice. So how about that conversation you had with the boys about being responsible for their water bottles? Oh wait… what’s that? You lost a DIAMOND!?"

You’d think such penance might punch me right back to sound reason: “Thank you, Mean-Self, for that emotional spanking. I realize my folly and I will stop feeling sad. Thanks for pointing out that I am selfish and petty and under-concerned about All the Real Problems In The World. I feel so much better.”

But that’s not what happened, and I went to bed sad.

The next morning I decided to pray about it.

Yep. Prayed about my first-world-problem. I thought the only thing stupider would be to pray about untangling my ear buds. But I know the apostle Paul said to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18)

All occasions. All kinds of prayers.

So I sat in my arm chair and prayed something like this, “Hi God. This is your irresponsible daughter here. And I’m sorry for being a baby, but since you are God, and through Christ you've made a way for me to talk with you, would you help me find my ring?”

While I was praying, the boys were getting ready for school and started asking the regular morning questions.

"What’s for lunch?"

"Do we have any milk?"

"Where is my backpack?"

I knew it was time to get out of my chair and ended my prayer.

I pushed the ottoman away from my chair, and then I saw a little round circle buried in our high-pile carpet.

Like the woman in Jesus's parable who found her lost coin I wanted to call my friends and neighbors together and say, "Rejoice with me; I found my lost ring!" So I hollered to the boys.“I found my ring!”  I grabbed my phone to text Kurt and then I saw the date: September 11. Not exactly a day for a group celebration over a first-world-problem solved.

Then I cried.

Why did you do that, God? There are bigger problems!!

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.
And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:29-31).

It wasn’t an answer as much as it was a sign post: If He sees when a sparrow falls from the sky, when a hair falls from a head, He most certainly sees and knows our most difficult circumstances. Turn on the TV. Scroll through your newsfeed. Look around your dinner table. People are struggling with hard things.

But even as I read those verses, it occurred to me that Jesus didn’t promise to keep the sparrow from falling, nor to keep my hair in my head, nor to “fix” any of my major or minor problems.

In fact, when Jesus spoke those words, He was in the middle of teaching His disciples not to be afraid when they face serious and scary circumstances. Why not? Because as Jesus said, “You are worth far more than many sparrows.”

I have to admit, that doesn’t feel like an anchor of an answer.

But it reminds me that He is attentive. He sees. He knows. He cares.

So when I don’t see him doing anything about the long list of serious, urgent, ongoing prayer requests--which break His heart and mine--His little interventions on smaller matters remind me He is always working (John. 5:17).

His plan is not haphazard. His work is not random. His sight is not blurred.

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" (Romans 11:33)

We may not see His greater plan in our suffocating struggle, but He does. And we can be certain He does, because He sees when a hair falls from a head, when a sparrow falls to the ground, and a when a wedding ring falls into the carpet.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Gifts of Music and Memory

I love music.

Photo Credit: TiiaBear
In the car, in the kitchen, while I walk, when I worship. 

And nearly every kind. I can appreciate a banjo as well as an intelligent rap and just about anything in between.

I’m amazed that God would use elements as formulaic and functional as math and physics for a composition so artistic and enjoyable as music.

His brilliant combination makes music a powerful tool.

Think of the lyrics you know by heart. You have words from entire songs--perhaps entire albums-- tucked away in your brain. With a few starting notes you can recite the words without much effort. 

It is no coincidence that in biblical times children—yes children—could memorize the entire book of Psalms because it was their song book. The soundtrack of their heritage. Add melody to words, repeat regularly, and over time 150 chapters of scripture and history get locked into memory. 

One-hundred-fifty chapters! 

I have trouble remembering phone numbers…except for Jenny's, “8 6 7 - 5 3 0 ny-eee-I-een.” See what I mean?

I’ve tried to harness this gift for my kids. We’ve set verses to such ridiculous melodies, none of us can forget even if we tried. We’ve also listened to artists such as Ellie Holcomb who has set scripture to music.

But it “cuts both ways” as Gloria Estefan sang.

We’ve had the radio going in the car a lot because… well, I love music. However, while I admire Megan Trainor’s message in “All About that Bass,” I cringe when I hear my boys singing about “booty.” Call me a prude but hearing them sing Bruno Mars’s jam, “Up-town you-know-what,” is also troublesome for me.

So I took a cue from a friend and decided this year on the drive to school we will hear a monthly theme song. An entertaining song with lyrics that don’t embarrass me, or them, if they start mindlessly singing them at family gatherings.

With school starting in August, I chose an oldie by Scott Krippayne called I’m Not Cool. Even if it is cheesy, I still get a little choked up when I listen. It speaks to adolescent insecurities which apparently die hard.

The tune is catchy, and I hope the message sticks. The artist laments his complexion, clothes, and car and then declares, "I’m not cool, but that’s okay, My God loves me anyway!”

There was a little eye-rolling from the boys, but we stuck with it through August.

For September the boys chose Impossible by Building 429 which champions the truth “That nothing is unreachable, when we trust the God of miracles.” I like it, but a month is going to be a challenge. I may have to adjust the schedule for a new song every week.

So I’m on the hunt for songs with solid lyrics that my boys would like.

If you have a recommendation, I’d sure be grateful if you’d share it. I’ll head straight to iTunes and add it to our playlist!

(Unless it’s something like THIS SONG. I think that song, catchy as it is, will ruin the theme song project forever! Thanks to Andee for digging up that gem