Day 17: Luke 2:1-20

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Every year in our Christmas program the 1st – 8th graders recite in unison Luke 2:1-20.  I love that my kids know it by heart and can say the Christmas story word by word.  I, too, memorized it in elementary school and it has stayed with me ever since.

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The Duggars: The Cost of Being On TV

I remember watching the Duggars before they even had a show.  They were a large conservative family with kids dressed in red and white outfits (most of which looked handmade) traveling the country in a motor home.  Their lives looked happy and simple.  They had TV specials on once in awhile highlighting what life is like with 14 to 15 kids (not sure how many they actually had at that time).  It was feel-good TV and better than some of the reality garbage on the other networks.  Who can argue with living debt free, frugal living, shopping at thrift stores, good wholesome family values?  Apart from homeschooling and strict fundamentalist Christian principles, I find myself adhering to many of the Duggar’s lifestyle choices.

Then the Duggars became TV stars. I was watching an episode years ago from Season Three:  Duggars New Addition where the Duggars layed concrete on their basketball court and the younger kids were forced to play inside.  They were struggling to find things to occupy their time.  I remember thinking, “This is so boring.  There is no depth or meaning to this.  But why am I still watching it? And why do I want to watch the episode that follows it?”

In a later episode from Season 5, Duggar In Danger, young Jason Duggar falls twelve feet into an orchestra pit and an ambulance is called.  In a later interview Michelle Duggar says, “Now we have so many adult children that they have a phone with a camera on it.  So everyone was getting this on their cameras.”  I asked myself, “Is this normal to pull out your camera and start videotaping when your little brother gets hurt?”  Of course it is if you are a reality star.  This makes for great TV!  You cross that line from living your life as a simple family to being a performer or TV star basking in the perks TLC has to offer.

What family of 21 can realistically travel the world?  Jill Duggar had 1,000 people at her wedding including media reporters–this is not normal!  Jessa Duggar took a honeymoon to France. Josiah Duggar invited 400 guests to his graduation party. The Duggars have a barred fence around their home to keep fans out–this is not normal living either.

Now they have followed the demise of the reality stars who have gone before them.  Since Josh Duggar’s struggle with sexual molestation and most recently addiction to pornography and infidelity was made public. Should we even be all that surprised?  There is a cost of being on TV.  Allowing cameramen into your home documenting your daily life shrinking your privacy is exhausting.  The Duggars chose this, but unfortunately their young children did not.  They will have to deal with the consequences of these scandals the rest of their lives.  Even though it may not be ethical to conduct a witch hunt delving into police records violating somebody’s privacy etc., it is a dire consequence to choosing the reality star route.  Nothing is hidden anymore.

The Duggars feel they are different from other reality families.  They don’t watch TV and limit all their exposure to music, the Internet, movies etc.  They see their reason for being on TV as a family ministry.  Being a person in the ministry, I see “ministry” as sharing the gospel message of the saving grace God freely gives through Jesus Christ.  It really can all be summed up into that.

The Duggar’s share family moral values and living.  There is nothing wrong with that, but that’s not the heart of what ministry is.  If we have this attitude of “Look at the Duggars!  We want our family like the Duggars!” we are setting ourselves up to feel insecure, ashamed, and now severely disappointed.  They are not a perfect family and have their hidden sins (that have become not so hidden) and I don’t even think they are the best Christian example.  Psalm 146:3 says, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings who cannot save.”

Fame was not something Jesus Christ actively pursued.  He walked humbly on earth and lived His life with His ministry pointing to the one true God.  His sacrifice was not fame and fortune but rather his death which paid for our sins.  So let this Duggar scandal be a gentle reminder that even the perfect looking are far from perfect.

December 21: Kids in Worship

1-2014-12-22I love our church’s Christmas program.  Actually it is not a program at all.  The children help lead part of the service and help the congregation understand the meaning of the Advent season.  They do this readings, songs, and symbols.  It is a beautiful thing.  I loved watching my three kids be worship leaders with their Sunday school friends.

My Child Care Journey…

DSC09085If there is anything I have learned in life, it is that you should not say, “I will never do that.”  OK maybe if it is something crazy like bungee jumping off a bridge…but don’t put that one past me.  I am the type who might actually do that.

We make our plans, of course.  God often has a better one that leads us through twists and turns, mountain and valleys, and to places we swore we would never go to.  Child care was one of those for me.

I was a child care sub in a public school district in 2002.  It was a second job and “my real job” was youth director at a local church.  Child care was secondary in my life.  So when I lost control of a group of 20 preschoolers, I knew this was job was temporary.  The following year I took a job as an after school care leader in a small Christian school.  This job was a better fit and I worked it for two years.  However, my passions were with the youth in my church and it was always a “second job” to supplement my part time income.

The following year we moved to Indiana and I had a brief stint of working in an actual day care center located in a business park.  I felt claustrophobic in the small classrooms with twenty four year olds.  The playground was a quarter of the size of the school playground where I worked previously.  When I lost control of a group of four year olds, I knew I could go longer work there.

I was a little too preachy about child care after that year, yet I was also confused about my calling.  I took on some traditional values even though I am not your typical stay-at-home mom.  I was never one of these college girls who wanted a “Mrs. Degree” and be a stay at home mom.  I wanted a career of some type and wanted to work outside of the home.  My desires and my values were all conflicted with one another and it is something I struggled with for years.

I stayed home for several years after having children.  I felt like it never came naturally to me, but I found my style eventually.  Two years ago a friend of mine wanted to send her daughter to our little Christian school we send our kids to.  Kindergarten dismissed an hour and a half before the time she finished work.  With no after care program at the time, I offered to watch her daughter until she finished work.  I only did child care about six hours a week, but I learned quickly that 1)  I loved having extra children in the house.  2)  I grew up on a neighborhood where there were always children to play with.  My kids do not.  This would be a way for them to develop friendships.  3)  God does not call everyone to be a  full time stay-at-home mom.  My friend was doing amazing work in God’s kingdom.  God was using me to help her do her work.

So come that spring I had a few families ask if I wanted to watch their kids the following school year.  I knew it was from the Lord.  Last year I had four regular child care kids.  This year I doubled that to eight.

Yes, now I am your typical stay-at-home mom.  I hang up my laundry on the clothesline outside.  I do crafts with my kids.  I bake muffins.  I sweep the floor at least four times a day.  I am OK with it.  Because I am supporting some amazing moms out there doing kingdom work.

I don’t think in terms of “real job,” “real career,” etc.  anymore.  And by the way I still do lots of youth ministry…mostly volunteer.

But this is me right now.  I love owning my own business.  I love having a loud chaotic house full of kids.  I love having a baby in the house.  I love watching my three kids love on these babies and toddlers.  So it’s a win win for everyone.

So my friends, never say “never.”  Your “never” might be your next adventure.

I Gave Up Complaining for Lent

6:45 AM is not early for me.  On many mornings my alarm goes off at 4:45 AM and I get a workout in before a day of homemaking/child care giving/everything else I do begins.  But 6:45 IS early when your kids do not have school, your husband has the day off, and YOU do not.  Crankiness done. Over.

And actually complaining especially about my schedule and responsibilities is something I gave up for Lent.  My husband often said how we should not give something up during Lent (such as chocolate, pop, Facebook etc.) but rather focus and tackle something we struggle with.  The year he gave up worrying he was hit with particular issues that caused tremendous “worry.”  Like he had to walk through a valley to make it back to the hillside.

That is exactly how I felt this week.  I thought it was going to be a light easy going week.  Especially with the kids being home extra days and the weather absolutely perfect.  But that instant need to complain is always on the tip of my tongue.  The things I want to complain about about are constantly in my sight–and no I don’t mean my children.

I mean the little cluttery pieces of toys spread everywhere.  I mean half colored pieces of paper all over the floor.  Shoes (including mine!) spread all over the eating area.  Toothpaste spots all over the sink.  Laundry where it should not be thrown–socks all over the family room store get to me even if they are mine.

And it’s not just clutter.  It’s the little jobs on the “to do list” that get carried over week to week because they never seem to get done.  It’s the desire to not want to do anything but bum around on Facebook (or write blog entries). It’s the fact the kids broke the space bar on my keyboard and typing has become a slow tedious task.  Or they ripped their Sunday pants.

Yet I ask myself, “Amy is it really that bad?”  Is it so bad you need to broadcast it to everyone?  The toys get picked up.  The paper gets recycled.  The shoes get put away.  The laundry gets done.  The kids are old enough that they actually help with this.  A lot.  The little jobs get done…sometimes on the brink of a deadline…but they do. Goodwill sells keyboards…and pants.

And isn’t God good ALL the time?  He know what we need, what valleys we need to walk through, and what hillsides we can rest on.062-DSC09008