Learning How to Keep My Mouth Shut

I love a good discussion.

I am always up for a deep talk about some kind of challenging topic, and I’m ready to jump in at any time to share my opinion or add my thoughts to the conversation.

Usually too ready.

Lately I feel as though God is calling me to be quiet.

To learn how to listen, instead of always waiting for my turn to say something.

This is hard for me. I like talking. I will gladly do my part to ease the awkward silences.

And I guess I just like being heard.

One evening when Ben and I were talking about this, he shared his strategy with me. He said that whenever he’s in a group of people where everyone is talking or waiting for their turn to be able to say something, he sits back and thinks to himself:

I’m okay with my opinion being the one that’s not heard.

This has stuck with me. If you’re ever in a group discussion with me, chances are you’ll know what’s going through my head: “It’s okay. I don’t need to be heard. My opinion is still worth something, even if no one knows it but me.”

I think it’s human nature to like being heard. We feel valued when others hear what we have to say, and agree with us, or just understand us.

But what God has been reminding me of lately is that I am already heard. He always hears me.

I’ve been stuck on Psalm 116 for a month now. I keep going over and over these words of truth:

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

When I came across those verses a month ago, they hit so deep and rang so true, I had to stop and take note, because it was clear to me that I had a deep, aching longing to be heard.

The reminder that God is listening is helping me to learn how to stay quiet.

He values my thoughts and opinions.

He gives me everything I need to sit back, find my true value in Him, listen hard to others, and be the reminder to them that they are loved, as I am loved, because we are heard.

Food For Thought

Today we’re going to talk about food.  And maybe about giving food up, self-control, and fasting.

I’ve been struggling with writing about this topic, because there are just some things that are socially unacceptable to talk about – how people spend their money, how they are choosing to parent their children, and their eating habits. If you want to make someone’s defenses go up super fast, one of those topics should work out very nicely for you.

So, why would I choose to talk about food, fasting, and eating habits, when it’s a topic that can make people feel uncomfortable??

  1. Fasting is a spiritual discipline.
  2. I’ve spent the last four years of my life seriously overhauling my eating habits, so I tend to think about it a lot.
  3. I’m going to share personal experiences, which no one can argue with, because it’s my experience. I know nothing about your experience. I would never ask, because I usually try to stay within the bounds of what is socially acceptable…(Although I might need to check with Ben to see if he agrees with that statement. Maybe sometimes I don’t try very hard…)

What does God have to do with food? Well, fasting was pretty popular in the Bible, and I believe that it’s something that we should still be doing today.

However, I’m not the best person to write about that, because I’ve fasted only a handful of times in my life.

I have excellent excuses. My doctor has told me that I need to eat every two or three hours because my blood sugar does wonky things if I don’t. Since I have started doing this, I have felt a dramatic improvement in my life over what I felt like before.

Fasting does not go together very well with wonky blood sugar.

Being a mom of young, active children does not go together very well with fasting with wonky blood sugar.

So, I’m working on this one. I’m thinking a mini retreat in the fall would be wonderful. Ben could take care of the girls, I could get away for a day, and wonky blood sugar would just be part of the plan.

I used to use this as an excuse to not fast, ever. But lately, I’ve been feeling that since I know it’s something God wants me to do, I need to trust Him with all of my physical needs, especially the ones that come up because I am obeying Him by fasting.

Obviously, I’m not going to get crazy with this, and fast often, or for long periods of time, but I’m thinking I’ll start really small, and see how it goes.

Why do I think it is important to do this? Two reasons.

The first is that in the New Testament, Jesus talks about how his disciples were not fasting “while the bridegroom was with them”, but implied that once He left, they would fast.That seems to suggest we should, too.

In Psalm 35:13, the Psalmist writes about how he “humbled himself with fasting.” I know that not everyone believes that we need to fast, but I believe that there is much benefit to being humbled in that way – brought to the point where a very basic need is surrendered to God, so that we are continually reminded of our need for Him.

The other reason I think it’s important is because I want the Holy Spirit to control my body, not my stomach. Oh, this is a such big one, guys. It is so big, in fact, that I’m going to have to save this one until tomorrow, or else this post will get honkin’ huge. Plus, it’s the part that is more uncomfortable for me to share, so you have a day to brace yourself….

See you tomorrow!

Been Thinking About Tantrums

As I sit here writing this, my sweet baby girl is in her crib, absolutely FREAKING out. I’ve never seen her like this. Her reason? I wouldn’t let her go into Natasha’s house, and I made her come inside our house because I needed to make supper.

You wouldn’t really think she has it in her, but she does. She’s a feisty one. And that’s a good thing, but it does have a down side, as I am hearing right now.

She comes by it honestly, as they say. I used to put on a good show when I was her age, I’ve been told. My sister always jokingly (?) said that it was really unfair that Anika was such a perfectly obedient child when she was little, because I needed payback for all that I put our parents through.

Now she doesn’t need to feel that way anymore, because Kaylia is doing her part to challenge my parenting skills.

I think I turned out okay, so I’m not too worried about Kaylia. And I’m looking forward to all of the positive stuff that comes with the determination and gumption that she is already displaying at such a young age. And when she’s happy, as she is almost all the time, she really is the sweetest little girl.

It’s kind of funny, because I listen to her screaming in her crib, and I realize that I still have “tantrums” – I’ve just learned to have them in a slightly more acceptable form. I have my mind set on what I think would be a good idea, and if it can’t happen, I get all grumpy and sulky about it, and I am in a bad mood about it until I can spend enough time alone to pray and work it out, to get to the point where I finally surrender everything to God, for the millionth time.

I go into Kaylia’s room to see if she’s ready to come out, and she screams “no” and jerks away from me, still lying there wailing in her crib.

And I do that, too, in a way. I know that God is always there, and He offers me all the peace and joy I could ever want, but it takes a little while until I’m ready to give up my way, and accept His.

Then finally, Kaylia’s crying calms down. She lies there listening to the stories Anika reads to her, and starts asking for milk. She lets me pick her up, and her face is all red, and her nose is runny. It takes her a little while to recover from her “episode”.

And I’m like that, too. I finally reach a point where my way doesn’t seem so important. My energy and emotions are spent, and I finally open up to God and let Him come in to soothe me. My emotions are a little shaky, and I’m a little embarrassed for taking so long to figure things out. But I’m back on the right track.

I think that David kind of had tantrums, too. There are some Psalms that definitely sound like tantrums. That doesn’t mean that it’s behavior to strive for,  but I do think it means that God can handle it.

My favorite part is that David prayed for a “steadfast heart.” I read once that it’s okay to have ups and downs in our relationship with God, but that we can all pray for a steadfast heart, like David did. And as we grow, we’ll steady out a bit, and not be on such an emotional rollercoaster, but rather move towards continual reliance and closeness to God, without as many deep, dark valleys – or maybe with more of an understanding that God is in the deep dark valleys, and then even those aren’t so bad.

Hmm, maybe tantrums can be my new reminder to pray for a steadfast heart, and a deeper knowledge of God’s presence in my valleys… Then I’ll actually want Kaylia to have them more often!

photo © 2010 carlo cravero | more info(via: Wylio)