Posted in focus on faith, need a laugh?

Ready or not: what childbirth teaches about life

When I was expecting my first baby, the doctor wanted to find out if I was ready so he asked me what I thought about natural childbirth. I didn’t know what he meant. I mean, wasn’t childbirth natural? What was unnatural childbirth–a big slimy alien bursting out of your chest?

He suggested I research the Lamaze Method and come back in a month.

This baby has just been born, she is brand new just minutes old. She looks like she jsut stepped out of heaven.
This baby has just been born, she is brand new just minutes old. She looks like she jsut stepped out of heaven.

My mother had delivered eight babies. Did I ask her advice? Absolutely not! I had been to college! And I had a library card–the Internet of yore.

I read the Lamaze book in one sitting: piece of cake! I can do this on the kitchen table, mop up and have the girlfriends for brunch.

At the second prenatal visit I told Doc I was ready and I would not be needing any pharmaceutical intervention. At all. Keep the tylenol in the cupboard; I will do this the natural way.

He was delighted.

He asked me if I wanted Gerry in the delivery room. My friend Laura had said: If he’s there to put in the order…he ought to be there to pick up the package.

Yes I do, I said.

In order for Gerry to get clearance he had to view the film, Having Our Baby. Medical professionals used this as a filter for queasy dads; if you survived the film, you were in.

I wasn’t too sure about Gerry–oldest of five boys. No sisters. I decided to go along in case he needed a hand to hold. Two weeks before our due date, we arrived matinee ready with two little sacs of homemade popcorn.

By this time I was large and uncomfortable, needing help to rise from low couches. I lumbered in and we sat on the two straight-backed wooden chairs in a room smaller than most kitchens. The screen wobbled on its flimsy tripod; we had front row seats.

The lights were doused and the reel began to chatter and whirl. Larger-than-life characters were right in our face. I opened my popcorn and began to nibble, smugly wondering how Gerry would react when things got dicey.

I peeked sideways. Gerry was also nibbling, showing no signs of discomfort. Yet. I’d better keep my eye on him.

The film’s star was obviously a Swede – buxom, blonde, cheerful and uninhibited. She arrived at the hospital with her little suitcase in one hand, her little husband in the other. Every few hours, we would revisit the Swede to see how she was progressing. Thanks to film editing, this only took minutes, giving the impression that labor is a quick, painless affair.

Hah! Just like the book, I thought, and I stole another glance at Gerry. Nibbling. Calm.

The Swede purred: I have to puuush. She began to pant. They moved the Swede from her bed to a cart and rolled into the delivery room. They transferred her onto the delivery table and suddenly it looked like the Swede was going horseback riding! (There were no stirrups in the natural childbirth book)

As soon as the Swede was in the stirrups, the camera zoomed in on the action. I had never seen so much…action! I couldn’t swallow my popcorn; I felt hot and dizzy.

I looked at Gerry. He seemed nervous, like he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be looking at her…action.

He fidgeted. He peeked. He ducked. He nibbled popcorn. He peeked again, looked my way, shrugged and gave me a wan smile.

The Swede began to push. I felt queasier. Suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, the doctor asked the nurse for a needle. There were definitely NO needles in the Lamaze book! A close up shot revealed a device the size of a javelin. He plunged it in deep.

I gasped. The doctor asked for scissors.

Scissors!?! 

He made the judicious cut the Lamaze book failed to mention.

The lights went out all over the world.

Gerry caught me before I rolled off my chair. Popcorn scattered. “Nurse, help! Connie fainted.”

And the nurse said (I am not kidding): “Put her head between her knees.

At 38 weeks, I was great with child. He tried anyway.

When I came out of my swoon I wanted to talk to my mother. I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was.

This true story illustrates the danger of a little knowledge. It is so easy to read one book, watch one doc, view one DIY YouTube, take one class, talk to one self-proclaimed expert and prematurely assume you are ready.

Chances are, you’re not ready. I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was to have that baby. But guess what? Two weeks later, the baby came anyway!

Life has a way of doing that–of moving forward, ready or not. The inevitable truth is that none of us lives forever, on this earth. I am in the decade neither of my parents completed. They died at 66 and 69 and I am 61.

I don’t know what tomorrow brings but I do know that whether I survive this decade or not I am assured of rent-free accommodation with Jesus when I shuffle off this mortal coil. That fact was settled November 19, 1973 when I said no to being my own god and Yes to Jesus as God. I accepted His forgiveness, thanked Him for paying my debt, and stepped in to my eternal future, ready or not.

But I didn’t stop there. Walking by faith is a lifelong learning process.

My 43-year-old faith has raced ahead, stumbled and fallen, gotten trampled and lost in the dessert, evolved and simplified, deepened and matured and I’m still learning.

Are you ready?

Start with the gospel of John. But don’t stop there, remember, a little knowledge can be dangerous. Continue reading all the gospels, then read the letters of Peter, Paul, James and John. Join a Bible study group (virtual or real), make friends with other believers, get involved in a church and establish some spiritual momentum because…

…ready or not….

 

 

  

 

Posted in focus on faith

Take the Spiritual Dryness Test

How do I know if my faith has run dry? Honestly answer the questions in bold test-taking-strategieswith a YES or NO — after each question is more explanation so you know exactly what’s being asked:

  • Do you operate from a sense of duty or from a spirit of gratitude? Are you trying to live a good, moral, responsible life because you feel like you should or because you are so thankful that God profoundly changed the direction of your life at some point? Where are you Right Now?
  • Have you lost (or never found) the desire to share the gospel with unbelievers? Is the Good News still good news to you? Do you find yourself looking for ways to spread this good news to others or are you quite happy to keep it to yourself?
  • Do you have to feign enthusiasm when hearing that someone has chosen to follow Christ? How do you feel when you hear that a person you know has become a believer — does it thrill you or trouble you? If it troubles you, do you pretend to be happy since that’s the “proper” religious response?
  • Are you driven by material pursuits while paying lip service to God? Where do you find your joy and your enjoyment — in the new colours you’ve chosen for your home or wardrobe or in your personal interactions with the Lord?
  • Do you go to church to “get it over with” or to encounter God? If you could do whatever you wanted to do on Sunday morning without it affecting your family or reputation or commitments, would you go to church or is there somewhere else you’d rather be? (note: every Canadian would choose the beach in Hawaii in mid-January so think of the big picture here!) In other words, are you putting in time like punching your time card at the factory — been there, prayed that — or do you attend church with a holy expectation of hearing from the living God?
  • Are you apathetic about matters of faith and spirituality, eager to change the topic when discussion arises? What do you like to talk about with your friends? I don’t mean that you have no interest in family or food or fun but if the conversation veers into spiritual matters are you pleased and ready to engage or do you silently hope the topic will be changed soon?
  • Do you pray other than to “bless the food and the hands that made it”? Has your prayer life been reduced to public display — you only pray when others are looking?
  • Is your Bible more than a Sunday accessory? Do you pick it up during the week or is it exactly where you put it when you got home from church last week?
  • Do you ever feel like a hypocrite? Like you are leading a double life? Do you have an uneasy feeling you are pretending to be something your’e not? Are you worried that your behaviour might blow your cover and reveal the emptiness inside?

How did you do? There were nine questions, what’s your ratio of yes’s to no’s?  If your number of yeses alarmed you, you’re not alone. About 80% of believers experience spiritual dryness at some point in their journey of faith.

So what do you do if you find yourself with a little spiritual sand in your shoes? Stay tuned. The next post will give you some solid tips to get you moving “God-ward” again.

Posted in focus on faith

It’s all Greek to me

IMG_3324Have you ever said, “It’s all Greek to me”? What does that mean? How many Greek words do you know? Moussaka and spanakopita don’t count. None? Me too. And things aren’t likely to change on that front since I am losing brain cells faster than fat cells.

For most of my Christian life, I blindly supported the false narrative of a Christian Caste System. The people I placed at the top of the heap (the Brahmins or priestly caste) were the Bible teachers and scholars. They were closest to God. They had earned the right to have a voice. They had a message worth listening to. They were the experts.

I have never felt like an expert when it comes to spirituality. In regards to my personal journey, 10 years of spiritual wilderness took the shine right off my halo!

However, my “problem” was my call to ministry and the constant invitations to speak and write. But God! I’m not a scholar! I can’t pronounce or translate one single Greek WORD! All I have are my hands, my humor and a heart that wants to serve You. How can You use me?

His answer? Connie, most people are just like you. They don’t know Greek either! And they never will. But they have gifts – gifts I have given them. And they need encouragement to use those gifts for My sake.

  • Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the   same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God is active in everyone and everything. (I Corinthians 12: 4-6)

In God’s eyes, there is no difference between the man who preaches to thousands and the one who leads a small group during lunch hour at his office. There is no difference between the woman with the television ministry and the woman who brings a meal to her neighbor after she has had a baby. There is no difference between the Bible Study author who sells millions and the young mom who blogs to bring hope to her friends. All are using the gifts God gave them to be the hands and feet and voice of His Son Jesus.

What gifts has God given you? Two good hands? A sense of humor? A heart that notices the needy? Eyes that see beauty in unlikely places? Ears that hear the cries of lonely people? A nose that does not turn up in disgust for the homeless, the hapless, the helpless, the horribly disfigured? You have a voice. Don’t let false narratives silence it. Join me in saying there’s hope for the rest of us. Let’s take the message of authentic spirituality by encouraging everyday people, just like us, to keep it real.

 What do I mean, keep it real?

  • Recognize and dismantle your idols: anybody need a slightly worn “What Would Beth Moore Do?” bracelet?
  • Realize that all God-given gifts are spiritual and worthy: stop apologizing for being “just” funny or handy or creative or strong or energetic and accept that God made you that way and whatever He created, he declared to be “very good”.
  • Refuse to pretend you are something you are not: if I have a spare moment, I do not run to my desk; I run to my garden or my kitchen or the home of family or friends who need help. “Doing” feeds my soul. God made me that way. It’s okay!
  • Reject guilt that you are not a carbon copy of the saints you idolize: I love to read and listen to scholarly teachers and preachers. I admire their passion for study and their ability to gain insight from that study and their skill in conveying that insight in engaging ways. But I’m not them. And that’s okay!
    • But now God has placed the parts, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12: 18-20)
  • Rejoice in who you are and let others see Jesus in your joy:The best Christian witness you or I will ever have is to be happy in Jesus. In 2004, in Surrey BC, I heard Beth Moore say, “I am happy!” Even though I have done many of her wonderful Bible studies, that is the one statement that stands out from everything else. That alone, was enough for me. I am going to go out on a limb here…I daresay the biggest reason Beth Moore is happy is because she is doing what God created her to do. She is being who God created her to be. Humans clone; God makes originals. Be the “original” God made you to be and let others see His joy in you.