Archive | May 2013

What Spiders Know that Moms Forget

What Spiders Know That Moms ForgetMoms are amazing. They birth babies. They make milk. They keep their household humming.

But spiders are pretty savvy, too. They spin silk. They weave webs. They provide for public pest control.

I’m not saying spiders are smarter than moms, but many mothers — myself included — could learn a few things from spiders in general and from one spider in particular: Charlotte A. Cavatica, the extraordinary and especial friend of Wilbur the Pig.

  1. Life is Full of Changes
  2. The sooner we accept this fact, the better. Seasons change. Circumstances change. Friends come and go. We grow older. Children leave home. Time passes. There is no stopping it.

    Charlotte lived her life to the fullest, savoring the small pleasures each day presented. She chose to be grateful for what she had instead of resentful over what she lacked. Shouldn’t we do the same?

    “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

  3. The Work Never Ends
  4. A spider doesn’t build one web and expect it to last forever. She knows her work must be done and redone (sort of like laundry and housecleaning), and she labors at it without complaint.

    This is the nature of both life and work: both call for much repetition. Grumbling about that fact does not make the tasks any easier.

    “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” – Colossians 3:23

  5. Calm Begets Calm
  6. When Wilbur first learned that he was destined for Zuckerman’s dinner table, he went immediately and understandably berserk. His hysterics might have worked the entire farmyard into a frenzy had Charlotte’s coolheaded composure not diffused the situation. Her confident reassurances helped soothe the pig’s nerves and settle him down.

    That’s the sort of woman I want to be: not one who is easily agitated or upset, but one whose presence calms and comforts everyone around me.

    “Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.”
    – Michael Caine

  7. Worrying Won’t Solve Anything
  8. Worrying may be many mothers’ modus operandi, but it accomplishes nothing except to make yourself and everyone around you miserable. And to what end? “Which of you, by worrying, can add a single moment to your life?” (Luke 12:25)

    Charlotte told Wilbur — just as Jesus tells us — to STOP worrying. She would save him; he needn’t fret or despair. She suggested Wilbur attend instead to matters over which he exercised some measure of control: he should eat well, chew slowly, get plenty of sleep, and keep fit (all very good advice, indeed).

    She assured him it would all work out. She would find a solution. He could sleep in peace. And to the degree Wilbur was able to trust her promises, he was able to rest undisturbed.

    “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” – Philippians 4:6

  9. Patience Is a Virtue
  10. Charlotte was no slacker. She was a meticulous craftsman, versatile and industrious. She knew how to work.

    But she also knew how to wait. She didn’t expect immediate results or instant gratification. Even after her web was spun and her trap was set, she realized it might be awhile before some stray bug became ensnared in it. But she was content to wait. She was patient.

    She tackled Wilbur’s problem in that same methodical, unhurried manner. She thought about it. She mulled it over. She gave it careful consideration. She slept on it. She hung upside down, so her blood would go to her brain, and patiently waited for an idea to come. She fully expected a solution would eventually occur to her. And in time, it did.

    We live in a culture that worships speed. We want everything, and we want it now. But faster is not necessarily better. Those things we gain instantly and with little effort are seldom as satisfying as those for which we must work and wait.

    Waiting builds patience. Patience is good. And the most important things in life take time.

    “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” – John Quincy Adams

  11. Mind What Matters Most
  12. Like other spiders, Charlotte could spin silk with five times the tensile strength of steel (pound for pound). With it, she constructed webs that were absolute marvels of engineering. With the webs, she fought against all manner of menaces to society: pesky flies, disease-spreading mosquitoes, and various other annoying insects.

    But unlike other spiders, Charlotte was also a good speller. She wrote words that attracted the attention of folks far and wide. The messages she worked into her webs were photographed and publicized in headline news. And the entire ploy allowed her to strategically and single-handedly save the life of her endangered friend.

    Yet in Charlotte’s estimation, all these other accomplishments paled in comparison to the importance of giving life to the next generation. She recognized that soft, white, inconspicuous egg sac for what it truly was — her most lasting achievement, her greatest work, her magnum opus.

    And here again, Charlotte was right on target.

    “Many people want to leave a better world for their children. I’m trying to leave better children for my world.” – Carlos Slim

I had hoped to publish this post on Mother’s Day, but I was too busy mothering to finish it in time. Instead of writing,I was taking family bike rides, cheering at basketball games, bandaging boo-boos, and tutoring math. I was folding laundry, preparing meals, sweeping floors, and shopping for groceries. I was reading stories, giving baths, rubbing backs, and singing lullabies. And I was spending alone-time with my husband, in hopes of maybe even conceiving again!

In other words, I was doing all those things mothers do that normally go unnoticed: Things that seldom make national headlines or attract public attention. Stuff that — unless I photograph, tweet, or update my status — won’t get liked on Facebook or pinned on Pinterest.

These tasks, taken individually, appear rather ordinary and mundane. But cumulatively, they amount to my most important work of all.

And doesn’t that job deserve to be done with my whole heart?

Lesson #6: God Wants the Whole Pie

God Wants the Whole PieWhat follows is the sixth (and next-to-last) installment in the series “7 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from my Husband.” This concept is key to understanding the Christian walk.

I grew up believing I should put God first in everything:

  • He wants the first part of my week, so I should attend church every Sunday.
  • He wants the first part of my day, so I should read my Bible each morning.
  • He wants the first part of my produce, so I should tithe on every penny I earn.

As with so many other matters, when I got married, my husband really challenged my thinking in this area.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with attending church or reading the Bible or supporting missions.

Quite the contrary.

But worship services and quiet times and charitable giving cannot be where it ends.

God should be more than the top item on my to-do list.

When we think in terms of putting God first, then by definition, something else comes next. It implies that once God’s been given His fair share, the rest of my resources are mine to do with as I please, to pour into family, job, hobbies, or whatever else might be on my list.

But that’s not entirely accurate. This whole hierarchical way of thinking is fundamentally flawed.

God will never be satisfied with a trifling token of our time and talents. Our service to Him should not be ranked alongside dental appointments and PTA meetings and Little League games — just one more thing packed into an already overcrowded schedule.

God transcends our to-do list, and our devotion to Him must be all-encompassing.

If life is a pie, God doesn’t just want the first piece. He doesn’t even want the biggest piece. He wants the whole thing.

But what does this sold-out sort of living look like? And how do we get from here to there?

We do it by following these five simple principles:

  • Love God with all your heart:

    The Bible states our goal plainly: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

    Loving God with our whole heart does not mean we have less love left over for our fellow man, as if our love supply could be diminished or depleted. Rather, the opposite is true. Loving God wholeheartedly compels and enables us to love others as Christ loves them, which is why Jesus follows that first command with a second like unto it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)

    As with the loaves and the fishes, when we give our love wholly to God, He multiplies and increases it many fold, so that there is an abundance of love left over to share with those around us in soul-satisfying ways.

  • Serve God with all your strength:

    The Bible commands us to serve the Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2) and with the strength that He provides.(1 Peter 4:11).

    Unfortunately, Satan has duped us into believing that only certain activities “count” as “service” and that everything else is just stuff we need to rush through so that we can have more time for “real ministry.”

    We live burdened down with guilt over all the things we are NOT doing, instead of viewing all the things we ARE doing as opportunities to joyfully serve, knowing that even washing dishes and folding laundry and changing diapers and chauffeuring children can be a spiritual service of worship and a sacrifice of praise when done “as unto the LORD” with a renewed heart and mind. (Romans 12:1)

  • Honor God in all you do:

    As Christians, we have taken the name of Christ; let’s make certain we don’t do so in vain. We must live lives of integrity and sincerity, praying that the words of our mouths and the the meditations of our hearts would be acceptable to God. (Psalm 19:14) Our faith should not be superficial, but should sink deep into our beings, transforming and molding us into the image of Christ. If we belong to God, then everything we do should be done for His glory. (Romans 14:8, 1 Corinthians 10:31)

  • Acknowledge God in all your ways:

    Our lives should point others to Jesus. In all our ways, we should make Christ known, and He will direct our paths. (Proverbs 3:6)

    I do not know who wrote this little rhyme that I memorized in my youth, but it is just as convicting today as it was the first day I heard it:

    You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day,
    By the things that you do and the words that you say,
    Men read what you write, distorted or true,
    What is the Gospel according to you?

  • Trust God with all the details:

    God has promised to “work all things together for the good of those who love Him,” (Romans 8:28) and He can be trusted to keep that promise. Time and again throughout scripture, we are urged to put our full trust in God, to depend fully on Him instead of leaning on our own limited understanding or putting our faith in human reasoning:

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

    “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)

So, there it is. These are the areas that come to my mind when I think of handing all of my life over to God. What does sold-out living look like to you? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section below.