Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Number One Thing

I'm twenty-weeks pregnant, and up thirteen pounds with an expanding behind as well as tummy. I always end up gaining 35 pounds with each pregnancy, and although it melts away after three months, due to the chicken-with-its-head-cutoff, newborn-in-the-house busy circus that follows, I still despise the months of having a big bottom and meaty thighs. I know....I know. The maternal fat helps produce plentiful breast milk. I'm glad for that, really. It's all worth it, really. But I'm still cranky, and I can't seem to talk myself out of it today.

After all, I'm still in maternity medical compression stockings, toe to waist style, and it's August, which is turning out to be the hottest month of the summer. The noise pollution created by having two active boys under seven is REALLY GETTING UNDER MY SKIN. And to top it all off, people are beginning to notice I'm pregnant, and the comments are starting to fly. "Don't you have enough already?" "You're starting this baby thing a little late, aren't you?" The latter comment was from a bossy nurse, who I'm sure meant well. I wonder how many times I will have to utter, "The more the merrier!" before this pregnancy gig is over? I wonder how long I can keep up the smile while saying it?

Thursday is our ultrasound appointment, and I'm butterflies-in-the-stomach nervous. I have to keep taking deep, easy breaths to try to relax. At first, I was assuming that if the baby was moving regularly, the ultrasound report would probably be good. Now, I'm not so sure, after reading stories about moms being blindsighted by devastating reports, despite normal-seeming pregnancies. I can't wait until it's a done deal and I'm walking out of that office on Thursday. The anticipation is the worst. And because I gave away all of our boy clothes, up through 3T, I'm really hoping it's another girl. Having to replace everything, right down to socks and sleepers and shoes, will be a huge burden financially. Fortunately, I still have all of Emily's things, save the 0-3 months size.

But I didn't set out to write about my crankiness and paranoia, believe it or not. The Lord has put it on my mind to relay the wonderful message from church.

We had a guest pastor today. A thirty-something man with three young children, Steve, our speaker, had spent ten years in youth ministry. He and his wife are now in the process of planting a church in our small township. His topic was: "What is the most important role of the local church?" It was a message with both a corporate and individual challenge, based on these words from Isaiah:

"My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations."

Steve spoke about how, as a Type A, Get-It-Done personality, he always secretly thought prayer was a waste of his time. Youth ministry tends to be very full, with planning, details, activities, and trips taking up a lot of the minister's time. Steve was in the habit of tacking prayer on at the end of events, almost as an after-thought. His ministry was apparently successful, but probably more in spite of him than because of him. He confessed that he relied on his own strength and skills to get it all done.

He spoke very humbly about how the Lord broke him, as he embarked on this church-planting mission. He didn't elaborate on what shape that brokenness took, but tears were in his eyes when he spoke of it. Knowing that he has three young children, and that he left his youth job to plant this church, I'm venturing to guess that some of that brokenness was in the form of extreme financial hardship. Larger churches help church planters financially to a certain extent, but still, pastors are dependent on people coming through the door every Sunday, so they can feed their families. He described the Lord's work in him as being VERY painful.

I found his humility both beautiful and heart-wrenching. Most Christians have probably been taken to that broken state for various reasons, at some point in their walk with Christ. Often we have to get to the end of ourselves, before desiring, with our whole heart, the beginning of him.

Steve now knows that HIS most important priority, and that of his new church (or any house of the Lord), must be prayer. The message really convicted me, as a Type A, Get-it-Done Christian mom. I worry much about Timothy's lack of fruit and vegetable consumption, Daniel's future prospects as an ADHD sufferer, Emily's lack of words, etc., etc., etc. The list of concerns and the Martha-type endeavors is long. And what good does it all do, if I'm not on my knees enough? If I tack that on at the end of my day? Today, it was driven into me that my most important priority as a mother MUST BE PRAYER. There is no better way to spend my time, whether it's my devotional time, my free time, my stolen-minute time. Prayer must prevail; it must rule me.

Prayer changes not only the things we pray about, but IT CHANGES US. It softens our hearts, and makes them more receptive to him; we become more willing to follow him.

Some other helpful passages:

"I can do all things through him who gives me strength." Phillipians 4:13

"Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8

Now if you'll excuse me, I MUST GO AND PRAY. Bless you all. Hope you had a great Sunday!

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