Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's Just a Fish

It’s Just a Fish

Right. Easy for you to say.

Apparently, God saw fit to use a fish to re-teach this proverbial Jonah some lessons; lessons I thought I had already learned.

At co-op on Tuesday, I was re-teaching a few lessons myself. Music Appreciation is no easy subject. Like another language, music speaks and the students in my class were asked to decipher the basics of this complex foreign language. Some hadn’t grasped it. I was wallowing and worrying through Tuesday about the co-op class yet all the while I was asking myself a more important question, will Captain Nemo live?

Before you start imagining a cute little clown fish, think again. Captain Nemo is named for the antagonist in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Not a nice guy. Captain Nemo is a good name for a fierce, purplish, bluish, reddish betta fighting fish. Jillian got him for her 9th birthday. She named him for his masculine personality and he might die of pop-eye.

I’m not kidding. Pop-eye sounds funny to you but it’s no laughing matter. I want to call it a disease but Jillian corrected me, “No mommy, it’s a symptom.” After a day full of tears and concern and the inability to successfully complete either grammar or math I told my overwrought 4th grader to take the morning off of school. For a while, we sat on the couch. I held her. She cried. Sobbed really. The mom in me was sitting there thinking of the 100 things I needed to do, while Jesus gently whispered, “No, this is what you need to do.” Lesson re-learned, Part 1 - People matter.

At co-op I brought up our prayer request to 24 children. No one thought Jillian was ridiculous for wanting her 12 dollar fish to live. Everyone could see her little heart breaking, fretting over her betta fish. One lad asked me later in private which terrible illness Captain Nemo had succumbed to and questioned me about the prognosis. Thank you Jesus. I no longer felt silly for bringing it up.
Lesson re-learned, Part 2 - Everything matters to God.

After doing some research - oh, and this a good point - Often doing research, I can’t find what I need. However, God had mercy on ME! I went right to an excellent site that guided me perfectly through the realm of fish diseases. After finding out what our options were, I prayed again. The likelihood of finding the right antibiotic is slim. I read with the guilt weighing heavily, “You should be prepared with bettas, you should have medicine on hand just in case they get ill. They don’t carry fish medicine in pet stores.” Who’d a thunk? I should have spent 35 dollars on-line for the betta first aid kit, so that we would be ready for this day. God had mercy on ME AGAIN! Our humble pet supply place in modest and miniscule “You can’t find mittens in winter” Oakhurst, carried a SELECTION, yes, a SELECTION of fish pharmaceuticals! for 8 bucks, a mere 8 bucks! Captain Nemo can get sick 8 times, because there were 8 packets.
Lesson re-learned, Part 3 - God provides.

Get a load of this. A single packet of antibotic powder, less than a 1/4 tsp (I measured) was placed into 10 little bowls as evenly dispersed as any pharmacist could do it. Each day, we’ll pour this scant powder into his bowl. God willing, Captain Nemo will live.
Lesson re-learned, Part 4 - It is a privilege to be the hands and feet of Jesus. (even to a fish)

He’s just a fish but whether he lives or dies, today was priceless. Thank you Jesus for second chances and for giving me a chance to grasp what I didn’t get the first time.

Wednesday morning. Captain Nemo died.
Lesson re-learned, Part 5 - The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:20

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

From Chuck

November 16, 2009

Start Seeking God
by Charles R. Swindoll

Lamentations 3:25

"Lord, I'm back and I diligently seek you." How many times have we said this? This time stop stalking and sit silently. Wait patiently, seek diligently, sit silently. That means you need to pour out your heart and then deliberately be quiet. Spend a full day in quietness.

Meditation is a lost art in this modern, hurry-up world. I suggest you revive it. Not by endlessly repeating some mantra to get into some other frame of mind. Not that. Simply and silently wait before your faithful God. Read a passage of Scripture, perhaps a Psalm, and let it speak. Say nothing. Just sit silently. Let Him talk. Let Him reassure you that you are fully and completely forgiven and that your shame is gone. Feel His arms around you. Understand the cleansing that He's bringing. Feel again the freshness and relief of His presence.

God will give you a fresh start if you'll stop fighting. It works. I know. I've been there. Just submit to Him and accept His grace.

God will keep His promise to forgive and welcome you home.
His mercies are new every morning.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What Should You Do?

I should blog.

My friend, Jocelyn should blog, too.

So should Robin.

We are all overdue in our blog updates and should get back to it.

I should also catch up on facebook. So many friends I should write to. I should mop my floor well because the last time I did it, I was hasty. I should be at the gym this morning, not blogging. I should floss more. I should send thank you notes for my birthday presents. I should go through that pile of papers on the counter. I should wash the sheets today. I should spend more time with the dog. I should.....

Do you feel the anxiety? What should you be doing besides reading my blog? Do you have similar thoughts now running through your head? Has the guilt-trip set in? Proverbs 12:25 says that a person’s anxiety will weigh him down. Is your heart heavy with the shoulds you should do?

Years ago a friend lent me a secular parenting book titled Parenting with Love and Logic. It’s great. I applied a few of the simplest principles to my parenting and it made a lot of difference. In practice, it demonstrated the power of our choice of words. It’s not just what we say that counts but how we say it. Ever notice how often the Bible says we ought to “build each other up”? As a result of Love and Logic language, I chose to reconstruct the way I phrased things so that my words would be helpful to my children and really benefit them.

I am currently reading Losing Control and Liking it: How to Set your Teen and Yourself Free. Chapter 6 is about the 3 Habits of Highly Controlling People and since I don’t want to be a highly controlling person, I dove right in. Habit #1 - SHOULDS should be avoided!

Should Thinking invokes a sense of condemnation. Behind every should is a judgment.
I should get more organized... (but I don’t because I am lazy.) Should Thinking makes me feel defeated.

Should Thinking sabotages choice-making and generates feelings of obligation. I should volunteer to be a merit badge counselor, because I should do my part like all the other parents. Should Thinking makes me feel guilty.

Should Thinking removes reward, because of course, you should have earned an A on that test anyway. Should Thinking thwarts joy.

Do you get it? I hope this translates to your life and circumstances. It does mine. How many times each week do I tell my children they should..... (you fill in the blank)? How often do I subtly condemn? impose obligation? and press them into performing without hope of any credit? Guilt motivated living is not living.

Since there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, delete the shoulds from your vocabulary.

Insert words like - could - would like to - I wish - I choose. When you do so, you tell the truth. There is a lot about shoulds that create little white lies in your life. God loves a cheerful giver, so give cheerfully and not under compulsion.
A person's anxiety will weigh him down, but an encouraging word makes him joyful. Prov 12:25

If you are game join me in the month of November. It is NO SHOULDS month. Here is my commitment:

I will not should myself, my husband or my children. I choose to eliminate shoulds from my vocabulary and would like to use more encouraging words instead.

Anyone want to play?