Category: devotional thoughts

I’m struggling, again, with a growing dissatisfaction about the way my Sundays feel. This is an ongoing thing for me – it crops up every so often, and I read and pray and read and pray. Honestly, though, Chris has never shared my burden for it, so actually implementing changes has never happened. Eventually, life gets busy or something else comes along and my focus shifts and I forget about it… until something reminds me, and I circle back around to this.

I want Sunday to feel “set apart.” I want a Sabbath. I want rest.

Oh, not necessarily literal rest. Every mom of a baby would enjoy an extra day just to catch up on her naps, I guess, but that’s not the issue here.

Usually, Sunday goes like this:

5:30 a.m. Jonas wakes up, creeps into our room, and whisper-asks if it’s time to get up. We tell him no, he goes back to his room, and we roll over and try to doze off again.
6:00 a.m. Chris gets up and goes to the hospital. If he’s on-call, he’s likely there all day. If he’s not, he either makes rounds and races home just in time to hop in the car as we leave for church, or he makes rounds and does a small case and misses church but is home for the afternoon.
6:30-ish a.m. I get up and tell Jonas he can get up and open Susannah’s door; we all head downstairs for breakfast. The next couple of hours are just like every other day – fixing two separate breakfasts for the big kids, gratefully sipping a cup (or three) of coffee, letting the dog out and in and feeding him, at some point Abigail waking up and doing diapers/dress/nurse with her. I usually flip the TV on, even though I’d like to have at least ONE day without it, and try to catch a weather report before the kids start clamoring for PBS versus DVR versus whatever-the-current-video-obsession is. The benefit to giving in to the clamoring is that it usually buys me a few minutes to get myself dressed (and possibly even put makeup on) while they’re watching something. I wish I didn’t feel so dependent on a screen to accomplish that, though.
8:30 a.m. I start wrangling everyone into “church clothes.” Jonas is pretty capable at this point of assembling an appropriate outfit that matches, and only needs help with combing his hair, cleaning his glasses, and tying his shoelaces. But Susannah tends to wiggle and muss and undress and pull ribbons off and generally takes twice as long to get ready, so it evens out. Abigail is still at a cooperative stage for getting dressed, but at least 50% of the time has a last-minute diaper-change needed just as we head out the door.
9:20 a.m. I grab Susannah’s bag, Jonas’ worship bag, my diaper bag, (and my Bible if I’m lucky) and shepherd my little animals toward the garage. Queue up at least one lost

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Leo Donald Maxwell
(my paternal grandfather)
September 14, 1921 – November 10, 2010

“13-14And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.

15-18And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.” ~1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Today, my family is sad. We will miss Granddaddy so much! We know that Grandmama will have many hard days ahead of her. They were married when she was still a teenager and just celebrated their 59th Anniversary; it will feel so strange to come home to an empty house after all these years. We have known that Granddaddy’s heart was failing, that his body was wearing out, so this isn’t completely unexpected. But still, we are sad. We will cry, we will share old photos and old stories (like this one: when we were kids, every time we asked for seconds of something at the dinner table, he would quickly answer, “Nope.” To our surprised faces, he would continue: “You might EAT IT!” and then break into a teasing grin as he handed the dish our way. Every.single.time.) and we will hug each other and sniffle together.
But we do NOT mourn ‘like those who have no hope.’ We know that Granddaddy had a deep faith – he knew Jesus as his Savior! He was a quiet man (at least during the years I’ve known him – I wonder if I’ll hear stories from his youth that are different?) and he wasn’t prone to preaching or lecturing. But he knew the truth: that he was loved by God,

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I posted on Facebook today that I heard my mother’s voice flying out of my head today. We were leaving the library, and Jonas had a stack of five books in his hands. As we passed through the automatic doors and neared the parking lot, I said, “Jonas, you have to pay attention to where you’re going. Don’t walk and read – you can read that in the car.”

WHAAAA—–????!!!!
I cannot count the number of times I heard some variant of that growing up. Don’t read and walk… don’t read at the dinner table… don’t read in the bathtub. (Although now they make these cool things, and since I read in the tub anyway, flouting conventional wisdom, how cool would that be? I digress.) The funny thing was, after a short period of time adjusting to my 5-year-old bifocals [CURB!] I was good at reading while walking. I don’t recall ever bumping into anything – anything major, that is. It was just “one of those things” my Mom always said. And today, without even thinking about it, it came out of MY mouth.
*****
Later today, Susannah was picking at a tiny scab on her leg. (This child is constantly dealing with bruises and scabs and various little injuries. Welcome to my world.) Now, here’s a dirty little secret: I’m a picker. I cannot stand to leave things like that alone. I don’t think I’ve ever just observed how long it would take my body to heal a little scab like that; I always mess with things on my skin.
But as I sat beside her, do you know what flew out of my mouth?
“Susannah, don’t pick at that. You’ll open it to infection!”
Hello, Dr. Chris Nebel, when did you take up residence in my Broca’s Area?
That was wierd.
*****
Yesterday, we had a few big rumbles of thunder. Jonas was having quiet time – not asleep, not absorbed enough in a major activity to ignore it. Down the hall he sped, onto the couch and into my arms he jumped. “Mama – it’s a storm! I’m scared of storms!”
I patted his back, and do you know what came to mind immediately?
“I know, baby. But remember: God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. We’re okay.”
Hmmm. Yeah, that wasn’t an original thought either.
*****
So here’s my take on losing my voice: in this case, it’s a good thing. They say that when we’re children, we think our parents know everything; when we’re teenagers we think they know nothing; when we’re parents ourselves, we realize they knew a whole darn lot. I think that this co-opting of my words is happening because the more I grow, the more I realize that the best wisdom comes from outside myself. Opening up to the wisdom of others, especially to the Creator of wisdom itself, and making it our own – that’s the only way to have a voice that matters.

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As we are preparing for Easter, it’s really amazing to see how Jonas is responding to the story this year. He is, first of all, very empathetic to the suffering of Christ this year.

The facts of Good Friday are a big deal – as we drive around town or color or take a bath, Jonas will suddenly tell me, “Mom, you know Jesus was HURT. And He DIED. On the CROSS. And he was DEAD.”

At first, I was concerned that he was too focused on that part of the story, so I made sure that we always told –as Paul Harvey would have it!– the rest of the story. On our way home from church Sunday, Jonas sounded the refrain again. This time, though, instead of telling him the Easter part of the story, I started asking him a few questions.

Jonas: Mom, you know Jesus? Was hurt. And He DIED. Up on the CROSS. And He was DEAD.
Me: Mmm-hmmm. Why did he die?
Jonas: Because the soldiers, they put Him up there, on the cross and He died.
Me: Yep, but why did He have to die there?
Jonas: For the sins. For everybody’s sins.
Me: That’s right, Jesus died for our sins. What’s a sin, buddy?
Jonas: Doing something wrong.
Me: And then what happened?
Jonas: [bursting into song] UP FROM THE GRAVE HE AROSE!

So now I think that he’s got the basic concepts down, and that in bringing it up so often he just simply wants to talk about it. There must be some detail he’s working out in his mind.

I heard someone on the radio, maybe Dr. David Jeremiah?, talk about kids who are raised in Christian homes having what he labeled “pre-conversion experiences,” where they start to understand the meaning of the cross, the basics behind salvation, maybe they even “say the prayer” at a young age – but as their knowledge and walk with the Lord develops as they grow up, they have further experiences in the journey. So I think that maybe Jonas is on the cusp of one of those kind of moments. It’s very intense for me; as a mom this is one of the most significant jobs I see before me: leading my children into a relationship with our Savior. I’m praying for wisdom and patience and the right words at the right times, and I really just have to leave it in God’s hands, I think.

*******

Susannah’s life is a little less complicated than her brother’s right now. 🙂 Her days seem to revolve around finding something to take apart and/or put back together… or something to climb… or something to knock over. As a result of these adventures, she will probably look like a prizefighter who went 8 rounds and lost in her Easter pictures. Cuts, scrapes, bruises, and bumps – oh, my! At the moment she’s got a goose-egg on her temple (running into the corner of the dresser), a big abrasion on her cheekbone

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I’ve been using a worship song as mine. We sang it at Immanuel this
morning, which reminded me that I’ve been wanting to write about this
for a while!

We will seek you first, Lord.
You will hear our voices
early in the morning and late in the night.
We will sing your praises,
giving you the glory,
offering our lives to you
a holy sacrifice.

May our praises rise as incense, O Lord, to you.
May our worship be a fragrance, O Lord, to you.

Isn’t that just about perfect? I am finding that when my day
begins by seeking God’s face, making time to come before Him, that day
goes infinitely smoother. We will seek you first, Lord — before we
get caught up in the business and busyness of our routines.

A few months ago, when it took ages to get Susannah to sleep each time
she woke up, I sang this song to myself in the darkness of her room.
You will hear our voices early in the morning and late in the night.
That’s the special territory of Mommy, at least in our house – those
early morning wake-ups and late night nightmares. How beautiful to use
those times as the chance to bring our little ones to the Father in
prayer!

We will sing your praises, giving you the glory…. I think of this
when we literally sing God’s praises together, dancing around our
kitchen in the soft sunlight, baby pajama’ed feet and stinky little
boy feet and slippered Mama feet tromping to the beat. And I think of
it when I take a moment to point out the majesty of creation, a small
act of mercy, or an instance of providence – I want to always sing the
Lord’s praises to my kids, so they will recognize when to give Him the
glory in their own lives.

And no matter what I do- as I fold the laundry and wipe the noses and
clip the coupons and drive to the appointments and cook and clean and
read and teach- this is my heartfelt prayer: offering [my life] to
You, a holy sacrifice.
The more I embrace the idea of living out my
sacrifice in my mundane moments, the more those humdrum activities
have begun to bless me and to teach me.

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I got this in my email inbox this morning – it’s a good follow up to my post about being so tired!

“The human body’s need for sleep has always amazed me. God has designed us to literally “turn off” like a machine for eight hours or more each night. Science tells us sleep is something our bodies need to do. It is not an option. During our sleeping hours, some parts of the brain actually increase their activity dramatically, and certain hormones are produced by many of the body’s major organs and regulatory systems that continue to work.

Unfortunately, as a young homeschooling mom, I was missing out on my much needed sleep…” Read the rest here.

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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