Month: November 2012

Bigger and Better

Yesterday our family celebrated my youngest son’s twelfth birthday. That last tween is barreling ahead to those teen years as quickly as he can. He’s a pretty good kid. Actually, pardon my bragging, he’s a great kid. Oh, he fusses constantly with his older sister, and forgets to make up his bed- stuff like that. I didn’t say he was perfect, just great.

We aren’t big on yearly birthday parties in our family. Last year he had a fairly big birthday when our whole family went in together to give him a full drum set. (Note: none of the rest of my family volunteered to keep the drum set at their house.) But this year we had not planned such a big to-do. Maybe just a movie and pizza with a few friends.

It just so happened that his birthday coincided with another big event. Yesterday was Bigger and Better Day. It was sponsored by World Vision Acts, (www.worldvisionacts.org) and Bob Goff. Mr. Goff is an attorney in Washington D.C. He’s not your normal Washington insider, bottom feeder, lawyer. Rather Mr. Goff, author of the book, Love Does, founded Restore International, a nonprofit human rights organization operating in Uganda and India.

Evan decided he wanted to participate in Bigger and Better Day on his birthday. It’s a game. You start with something small, like a paper clip, and you go door to door with the goal of trading up for something better, and then you do it again with whatever you traded for at the next house. In the end, you hope to have traded up enough to get something to sell. The money then gets donated to a person in a third world country who has applied for a micro loan. Our loan applicant was Lucino in the Philippines. Lucino needs $150.00 to buy fertilizer and an ox for his farm. His farm is his livelihood, and the extra money will help him expand his business and better provide for his family. When Lucino pays back the money, that money will go to fund another micro loan for another person

Since we don’t really live in a neighborhood, we ventured over to my parent’s neighborhood. It’s mostly a retirement community. My parents weren’t convinced that the people in their neighborhood would answer their doors, let alone understand and participate, but Evan and I decided to give it a try anyway. We invited a couple of friends to go with us, and we took off. I’ll admit, it was a bit difficult to get the point across to some, but everyone was very nice. Well, most everyone. To the snippy lady driving the Hummer, who insisted that she only gives to support the missions in her own church—shame on you for not playing! Everyone else was happy to play the game with Evan and his friends.

The boys started off with a paper clip and traded first for a pen. Then a screwdriver set, then a sander! We got really excited with a sander! The girls ventured off on their own and also started with a paper clip, traded for a pen, then a picture, then a wall clock, and then a lamp. Then people just started giving them stuff! The boys, however, ended up with the best trade of the day. They traded the sander for three new Ping golf clubs! The boys knew they had hit pay dirt! With those three clubs they could likely fund Lucino’s loan, help him make a better life for his family and his community, and when Lucino pays it back, that money will continue to make a better life for someone else. So a big THANK YOU to Bill and Mary Jane Turner for giving us the best trade of the day, and helping to make Evan’s birthday project a success!

You can play Bigger and Better anytime. And you can go to www.worldvisionacts.org to find a micro loan you can sponsor. Most of these people just need a couple hundred dollars to make their lives so much better. It’s fun, it gets lots of people involved, and at the end of the day you’ll be surprised what you can get with a paper clip!

For Evan, raising money to help Lucino topped his drum set party last year. I told you he was a great kid.

A Place of Rest

Yesterday was leaf-raking day at the Benson house. We raked leaves, blew leaves, hauled leaves… and then stood and watched more leaves fall to the ground. Grrr. The yard looked great. For about twelve hours. This morning, it’s hard to tell we did anything yesterday. There will be another leaf-raking day in our near future. It will be the day the very last leaf falls from the trees around our house and not one day sooner.

Very few things I do seem to stay done. Laundry, dishes, etc. Once done, most things need to be done again pretty soon. It’s a vicious cycle. Take the handrails on my front porch. They are white, or at least they are supposed to be. Didn’t I just bleach those recently?

There is very little rest for the weary. I had a friend who once said she’d rest when she was dead. That’s just how it is sometimes. We burn the candle at both ends only to find we are no brighter for it.

Still, there are things that must be done, and done again, and again, and again. How many times must I tell my kids to clean up their rooms? Apparently, at least one more time.  How many times must I forgive, try, love, encourage, scold, or plead?

We get tired, both mentally and physically, of continuing to put one foot in front of the other. We’d like to take a mental health day, but who has time?

You do.

Think about it. If the Creator of the universe made time for rest, so then should we. Are you saying you are busier than God? If you think you could possibly be busier than God, you are way.. too.. busy.

Sabbath. Tim Keller says this about Sabbath:

According to the Bible, it is about more than just taking time off. After creating the world, God looked around and saw that “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God did not just cease from his labor; he stopped and enjoyed what he had made. What does this mean for us? We need to stop to enjoy God, to enjoy his creation, to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The whole point of Sabbath is joy in what God has done.”

As Christians, our Sabbath day is on Sunday, or the Lord’s Day. We rest first, before work. We worship first, on the first day of the week, not on the last. But Sabbath means “rest”, and we are not to ignore this rest. Sometimes we have to get creative with finding our Sabbath. For those in ministry, Sunday is hardly a day of rest. It is a workday. So ministers have to get creative in finding their rest.

So do moms. Whether or not a mother works outside the home, there is really no off day for us moms, and yet we are called to have one. So what do we do? We have to learn to say no. Remember Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign against drugs? It wasn’t very effective in the war on drugs, but the principle is still valid. We have permission from the very God of hosts to say “No” in order to find our Sabbath. What can you say “No” to this week that would open up some Sabbath time for you?

Maybe we can’t escape for a whole day a week, but we can take mini-escapes all week.

Perhaps a sign on your bedroom door that says:

       For The Next Thirty Minutes Knock Only If:

  1.     Someone is bleeding… badly
  2.     The house is on fire… and you can’t find the fire extinguisher
  3.     We won the Clearing House Sweepstakes or the Lottery

The Lord knew that we would need this rest. God did not need the rest, but he set the example for us to follow. Are we going to be obedient in this or not? If we are, we will be better wives, mothers, daughters, friends, and employees. And don’t the people we love most deserve the best us?

Just Passing Through

When Matthew and I had bought our first home, it wasn’t too long before someone had stolen our garbage can. I was quite upset. We were rather short on money, and garbage cans weren’t free. I wanted my garbage can back. Matthew’s response to the matter was this, “Well, I did some mischievous things when I was growing up, so I’m probably having to pay for some of that now.” My response to that was, “Well, I was a good girl growing up, and half of that garbage can was mine!” I didn’t think that I should have to pay for his misdeeds.

I have to say that I feel that way a little bit about the election yesterday. I voted my biblical convictions on Israel. I voted with my biblical convictions regarding the sanctity of life. I also voted my biblical convictions on marriage.

I lost.

At some point, I believe the Lord will hand us over to ourselves. The Bible states this very thing in the first chapter of Romans verses 24-25.

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

I want to remind God that I do not stand with the majority. I want him to know that I don’t want to vote him out of my platform, and that I want him very much in our government. I do not want to separate him from our leadership. I want him to remember that my heart is turned toward him, and that I am crying out for him to intervene in this great land. Still, I feel that my voice is like the tiny Who voice Horton heard on that flower. Can God even hear me?

About a month ago, my oldest son made this statement, “I think Obama is going to win, and then Jesus will come back.”

To that I said, “Well, things are going to get a lot tougher before Jesus comes back.”

“That’s what I’m saying.” Was his reply.

As much as I wanted to give someone else the chance to do what has not been done in the last four years, and to undo some of the things that have been done, I have to realize that God is still on the throne appointing leaders for us. Even undesirable ones. It’s true.

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1

There is a greater purpose to the things we see happening around us. If we are living in the final days before Jesus comes back to us, then things are not supposed to get better. Actually, the Bible tells us that things will continue to spin out of control. (2 Timothy 3) And while that is a bit of a freakish thought, it is reality. As Christians, we cry for Jesus to return and rescue us, but we have to recognize what that is really going to mean.

This is a time for us to draw near to our Father in heaven who does hear our cries. He does search the earth for the faithful ones who serve him. In the end, Israel has never needed America to succeed. Life is precious whether some people value it or not simply because it is God breathed. The definition of marriage will always stand regardless of those who think they have the authority to change that definition. They confuse themselves with the One who established marriage in the first place.

And finally, in my disappointment this morning over the election outcome, I was reminded that this is not my home anyway. I am just passing through. That mine is not to get caught up in the trappings of this world, but mine is to have a mind for eternal things. This life is but a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow. My earthly existence is just a brief mark on the timeline of eternity. My greatest investment must be there, not here.

Leave Them a Legacy

I was going through some old boxes yesterday as we were cleaning out our attic, and  it ended up being quite a stroll down memory lane. I have a box of baby clothes that I have saved from when my kids were tiny. I have a box of pictures they painted, or colored when they were little. We had fun going through the boxes of things that my husband and I kept from our childhood. My kids grabbed some of our “vintage” t-shirts. I thought it was funny that they called t-shirts from when we were their ages “vintage”. Whatever.

As I was going through one box, I was surprised by what was in one. Inside an envelope was a newspaper clipping my grandmother had sent to me years ago. In the picture, she is seated in a chair, wearing a long, flowing red dress and gold slippers. She is surrounded on every side by little kids. There was a whole article about her beneath the photo that talked about how she was a weekly “Reading Fairy” for the local elementary school kindergarten class. She was in her mid-eighties when the picture was taken. No dust ever collected on that lady. She has long since gone to be with the Lord, but seeing her in that photo reminded me of the legacy she left behind for me and for so many others.

My pastor is preaching a sermon series on leaving a legacy. Have you ever thought what your legacy would be after you are gone? What are you doing now that will last long after you are gone from this world? It is something we should consider for multiple reasons. It’s a true fact that your great grandchildren won’t really know anything about you. Think about it, what do you really know about your great grandparents? Our fame, whatever that is, will die within two generations. My kids hardly remember my grandmother. They never even knew my other grandparents at all. So how do you leave a legacy behind that will have an effect on future generations if they won’t even know who you were?

The answer is simple. We have to leave a legacy that matters for eternity. My grandmother will see her great grandchildren in heaven because of the seeds of Christ’s love she sowed in me. She never had the opportunity to talk to them about Jesus, but she talked to me about Him. Many times. She warned me about the lure of this world, and how the devil would try to woo me away from Christ with the shiny things this world has to offer.  She never missed an opportunity to point me to Jesus. She taught me many things, but she never left out Jesus, and I have tried to do the same with my own kids.

My pastor said that we can do many things to help the poor, feed the hungry, console the broken hearted, but if we don’t also point them to Jesus while we are helping, feeding, and consoling, the end result will not matter. If we feed someone, but do nothing to point them to Jesus, they may die with a full belly, but they will die without Jesus, and that’s a real tragedy.

We can leave a legacy of love, or generosity, or sacrifice, but if that legacy does nothing to affect someone’s eternity, it is wasted. What kind of legacy will you leave? Are you leaving? You will leave one, will it matter for eternity or just for a generation or so?