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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Plastic People

MAD.  That's the word that you could have used to describe me this morning when I got in my car to take Eli to his checkup and discovered that our GPS unit had been stolen.  This is the second time that our car has been broken into while locked and sitting in our own driveway.  The first time it was Josiah's DVD player, Veggie Tale movie and baby mirror.  All kinds of thoughts ran through my head at this discovery...
1) It sure would have been nice if this thief would have asked us if we had the extra money to replace the GPS before he stole it.
2) Maybe I should leave a note in the car stating, "We are a four member family operating on one income...please don't steal our stuff!"
3) I must be stupid to have left the GPS in the car anyway.
4) What am I going to do without a GPS? I can't even tie my shoe without directions!
5) What kind of person goes around breaking into cars? This person must have been lost...well, he will get what he deserves!

STOP! I was floored that I actually thought that thought. How could I relish in the idea that this poor soul was probably on his way to Hell...did I think that Him being sent to Hell was revenge for stealing my GPS unit? Immediately, after I had the thought, I felt guilty and ashamed. No, I don't really want this person to go to Hell...I reacted out of emotion.  However, the fact that I even had the thought in the first place revealed an ugly truth about myself. I have been Americanized. I am a plastic person. I care more about my "trinkets and treasures" than I do about lost souls, the homeless, orphans and widows. Have I really forgotten who I am in Christ? I've let the American Dream overshadow the fact God made me a new person when he saved me...a person whose heart is in heaven and treasures are spent there, not here on Earth.  Sadly enough, many of us have this plastic problem...What is even worse is that the majority of our churches are this way too. 

I think that David Platt was right on the mark in his book Radical..."...when we pool our resources in our churches, what are our priorities? Every year in the United States, we spend more that $10 billion on church buildings. In America alone, the amount of real estate owned by institutional churches is worth over $230 billion.  We have money and possessions, and we are building temples everywhere.  Empires, really.  Kingdoms.  We call them houses of worhsip.  But at the core, aren't they too often outdated models of religion that wrongfully define worship according to a place and wastefully consume our time and money when God has called us to be a people who spend our lives for the sake of his glory among the needy outside our gates?"

Does that sound familiar? Here is a story for you...a homeless man was walking down the road on a day when the weather was not in his favor at all. He stopped at a church thinking that surely they could help him some least give him some sort of shelter while the storm passed.  However, he was turned away because the church "had been taken advantage of too many times from people like him." True Story. At this point, maybe you are asking how this person became homeless anyway...surely, it was of his own doing.  IS THAT REALLY THE POINT? God has not called us to help only those who are deserving of His love and blessings...because the truth is, none of us deserve what He has given us.  That's the beauty of mercy and grace. No where in the bible does it say to take care of the widows and orphans who have lived clean lives...and no where in the bible does it say to only help others if it won't cost you anything.  Didn't Jesus say that His true followers lay down their lives for Him? You see, it costs everthing. When we turn our lives over to Christ, we are transformed...a new creation...we have a desire and a longing to bring Him the glory by making much of Him to those around us and all over the world. Have you ever had that desire? Have you been transformed? If so, and like me, you forget from time to time that you are a new creation, haven't you wasted enough time being "plastic" while souls around you are in need and going to Hell? Do you really need that shiny BMW? that $200 purse? Couldn't these resources that God has blessed you with go to more important things such as helping others.  I'm not saying it is wrong to have and enjoy nice things...we just need to evaluate our priorities a bit...okay, we need to evaluate our priorities A LOT! ...thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When the baby becomes the big brother...

I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous about how Josiah would react to his new brother.  I even thought to myself that it might be safer for Eli to just stay in my tummy a little while longer! After all, Josiah has gotten all the attention to himself for all of his 19 months. Now that Eli has been here for 3 weeks, Josiah is finally starting to warm up to him...let me take you through these past 3 weeks in pictures...

Week One
As you can see, Josiah didn't want anything to do with Eli when he first arrived.  He wouldn't even hardly look at him!

Week Two

After warming up to him for a couple of days, Josiah started to acknowledge Eli a little bit (with a little coaxing). However, shortly after I took this picture, Josiah pretty much ripped Eli's hat off his was then that I decided that there would be no leaving these two in a room together by themselves for awhile!

Week Three

I took these pictures last night...It thrilled my heart to see Josiah taking an interest in his little brother without any coaxing from me or Jordan. Josiah even lays his head down gently on Eli and gives him little love pats every once in awhile.  And if you know Josiah, this is a big deal for him because he hardly does anything in a gentle manner...this next picture melts my heart...

and just because, take a look at how much Eli resembles Josiah when he was an infant...



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Enough Love to Go Around

As I hold our precious Eli in my arms, I am brought back to the day that Josiah was born. On that day, I remember thinking that there was no way I would ever be able to love another baby as much as I loved him...I thought that if I ever obtained more love then I might explode... 

Mommy and Josiah

But after having Elijah, I realized that that just wasn't true.  When my eyes first met his, I instantly felt that same love that I felt when holding Josiah for the first time...Jordan and I will forever cherish the memories of holding our baby boys for the first time...

Mommy and Elijah

Daddy and Josiah

Daddy and Elijah

Everyday I thank God for our boys...I thank Him for granting us enough love to go around...I thank Him for the opportunity to raise our children up for Him...I thank Him for being the ultimate example of love.

Josiah Neal (8/26/2009) 12:58 am
9 lbs 8 oz
20 3/4"

Elijah Neal (3/23/2011) 1:55 pm
9 lbs. 5 oz.