One of my new year’s resolutions has been to memorize Romans along with Ann Voskamp’s “Romans project.” I would like all of you to know that I am two weeks behind. And, in fact, that I have “failed” at all of my New Year’s resolutions that I felt so excited about a month ago. (was it only a month?)
- Potty training – after two weeks of trials, I made an executive decision that WE were not ready for potty training. When the one twin who seemed to “get it” began screaming “NO!” during every attempt to take her to the potty, I figured that this was a clear message to give it up for now.
- Focusing on my kids more/technology less – I still find myself in the hard moments inevitably drawn to check Facebook or Instagram or our budget on Mint.com or the weather or …
- Doing the “Joy Dare” to focus on gratitude v. complaint. Why don’t you ask my husband how well I’m doing at that? Sigh.
- “State of the union” with Seth – some progress. Some failure. Like the evening when my version of state of the union turned into a very unfair rant and rave where somehow in my twisted logic he was the one to blame for all of the stress I was experiencing in other areas of life.
- Scripture memory – see above … or below.
- Reading 40 meaningful books – progress! I desperately devoured several on potty-training, so that helped give me a head start on this one. But now I’m reading Pillars of the Earth which is a good read but realllly long. 900+ pages, so that’s slowing me down a bit.
What I’m realizing is that I can’t. I can’t do any of this on my own. I need a living Savior to do what I cannot do and never have been able to do: achieve a state of being right with God. And I need a Savior to offer forgiveness, mercy, hope, grace – and above all this, unshakeable LOVE – for all of the MANY moments I fail not just to meet my own standards, but in sinful rebellion turn away from God towards my idea of what I think will help me in the moment. (Yelling? Complaint? Chocolate?)
Yet this is not a reason not to keep striving towards less sinful patterns, towards more of the Spirit reigning in my heart. This simply changes my motivation and the how-to for doing so. It’s not to bolster my pride and sense of self-sufficiency and make me feel better, but I do so because I am loved by one whose love changes me and I do so only in the strength found in admitting and confessing I have no strength of my own.
So with that said, back to Romans 1:1. I can’t seem to get past this verse phrase – “Paul,  a servant of Christ Jesus,  called to be an apostle …” I keep switching those two phrases around as I’m working on trying to memorize it. Meaning that I keep saying in my head, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, called to be a servant.” (And sidebar: memorization is not my strong point. I can be familiar with the general ideas and themes of various Bible verses but I am really bad at memorizing them word for word.) I think this shows me how I tend to get this mixed up in my own life. I want to put “called to be a [mom/wife/counselor/Bible teacher]” before the basic identity of “servant of Christ Jesus.” I think this changes everything. If I am FIRST a servant of Christ, and THEN called to whatever I’m called to in a particular season, I don’t complain to those people I’m called to serve or about the tasks I have to do nor do I take it personally if I receive criticism or feel like I’m failing. All of it is service to Christ Jesus. All of my service flows from the One who served me all the way to death because he was motivated by his love for me. This is not a guilt-laden, “Let me try to pay him back.” [I tried that for many years – didn’t work because it’s impossible!] But in the way that I feel about doing a favor for a friend who I know cares about me and who has done many things to show me that. It’s not a burden but a delight. And similar to the friend who strengthens me because she watched my kids for a morning, Christ’s service strengthens me to serve him by serving others out of and with the love he’s poured into my heart by the Spirit. Also, this identity is unshakeable. I am a servant of Christ Jesus most fundamentally. I will never fail at that because God guaranteed that with Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Callings will come and go, but I’ll always be a servant of Christ Jesus. And I’m promised love, acceptance and eternal approval; in fact, I already have it. So no pressure or stress in that! I’m called to live out of who I already am.
Part of this is trying to find joy in what can feel like a pretty mundane stage of life. I decided that naming our days will help me to know what’s coming and will help our daughters to have something to associate with each day of the week. In trying to incorporate many major household tasks, a friend also suggested “Wash Wednesdays.” Unfortunately, our Wednesdays are too busy to do laundry but I liked the alliteration … so here’s what I’ve got:
Market Mondays – we head to the grocery store[s] to stock up for the week. I wish it were as awesome as a local farm market … maybe one day!
Taco Tuesdays – since our small group meets this night, we always need something really easy to cook for dinner. Hence, tacos. And, yes, this means when we host our small group, our house will likely smell like El Paso.
Women’s Bible Study Wednesdays – self-explanatory; highlight of my week. I love studying God’s word with these women. Right now we’re going through 1 & 2 Kings as we look at Elijah and Elisha’s life
Trash-truck Thursdays – because, well, Thursdays are when the trash trucks come through our neighborhood which is the highlight of my 2-year-olds’ week
French toast Fridays – Seth’s day off (since Sunday is a work day for him as a minister) and he loves making French toast for all of us at breakfast
Sleep-in Saturdays – well, one can have wishful thinking … one day, Seth and I will get to both sleep in on a Saturday. For now, we take turns.
Sabbath Sundays – I really do want to make Sundays a day that’s somewhat different from the rest of my week. So I’m experimenting with different ways to do that. At its simplest, it often means that Seth and I both crash for a long nap when the girls nap in the afternoon. Other times, I’ll try to blog or read an enjoyable book I’ve had on my shelf. After having kids, I had to get creative because I can’t really “take off” from the work I do the other 6 days of the week – diapers still must be changed, meals have to be prepared, tantrums must be dealt with – but I did decide that I wouldn’t do laundry on Sundays. I mean, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere. And so that’s my line … and I’m sticking to it.