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think with your heart

Permit me a "Mom rant." I know, I know.  Facebook is filled with these rants.  But hang in here with me until the end and perhaps this will all strike a chord or maybe a nerve.

I was working out at the Fitness Center on base today.  Usually I go alone while John watches Miriam.  Today I had the little one along to cheer me on.  Aside: she was a champion cheerleader as I deadlifted! As I packed up to leave the room, a couple Fitness Center employees approached me and told me children must be in the kid pen while I'm working out.  Fair enough.  Though Miriam was strapped in her car seat, pleasant the entire time,  getting in no one's way, and not at risk of falling under any one's weights, rules are rules. I could relate since I talked with a woman after her child ran near me as I did push presses. Talk about giving me a heart attack!

But back to today. After lifting, I proceeded to the spinning room. I wanted to check out a recorded spin class we're doing with spouses next week. As I set up my bike, another Fitness Center employee approached me to tell me children must be in the kid pen even when I'm in this room, on the other side of the gym.

At this point, a flood of thoughts rushed through my head. I realized I was getting emotionally upset and quickly left. Possible retorts I came up with later? "Sir, have you ever carried a baby for nine months in your womb, given birth, and then endured painful tearing and hemorrhoids? No? Well, don't expect I'm going to leave the precious product of that arduous experience on the other side of the building where I cannot keep an eye on her!" Or how about, "Sir, do you really think every one's better off with her stuck in a kid pen on the other side of the building, wailing, while I work out here?"  Maybe I should have tried, "You make it exceedingly difficult for a mom to get a solid workout here.  You have only male equipment -- no women's bars, no lightweight bumper plates or med balls, and no low med ball targets. The kid pen is visible from the cardio machines but not from most of the building. And when I think I've found a solution where my little one will inconvenience no one but me (the spinning room is almost always empty), you let me know that's unacceptable. Try thinking with your heart, Sir!"

I usually don't get really upset like this so I started praying about my experience and the resulting emotions. I questioned whether I was overreacting because my hormones are imbalanced or because Tim's death has left me more emotional. I came back to Galatians which I've been studying for a few months.  Paul warns the Galatian Christians that all their good works fail to earn them righteousness in the sight of God. Here I was, trying to be a good mother and I'm told it's not good enough. It really bothers me to be wrong or to be called out on something. I try so hard to be good, thinking my behavior will earn me what? Golden stars? God's love? When I fall short, it really upsets me.

If that example is too much of a stretch, try this one on for size. I clean the house, do Miriam's laundry, make meals, shop for food, and the list goes on. When I don't receive verbal appreciation for these activities, it bothers me. Why, then, am I doing them? Probably it's not because I love my family and these activities are an expression of that love. More likely, I'm doing them to earn righteousness, because they're the good things I'm supposed to do, because they'll win me points with God and with my husband.

Life's not really like that. I don't have to earn love; it's already been freely given as God's gift to me. All my good works are for naught when they don't flow from a heart filled with love for God and others. When I screw up and break a rule, it doesn't jeopardize that love. I can never do enough good deeds or keep enough rules to earn God's love, anyway, so it's futile to try. Let me be the one to begin thinking (and acting) with my heart, only let my heart be set on things above.

Richie Ray

John, Miriam, and I were out to brunch last Sunday.  We happened upon a diner run by Koreans that we'd formerly thought was shut down.  (They serve a kimchi omelette we'll have to return someday to try.)  The table of octogenarians dining next to us loved Miriam as she beamed her precious smile at them.  We exchanged pleasantries throughout the meal then waved goodbye as they left.
We waited for our check and, finally, the server approached and said, "That man paid your entire bill . . . you know him, right?"  We responded, "Uh, no.  We've never met him before."  We waved another goodbye out the window as Richie Ray and his Sunday brunch crew drove away.

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less." ~Tim Keller's study on Galatians