Be Paul

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking of my own zeal, a zeal that I sometimes could turn down a notch, I can see Paul and his mission better. Inspiration whirls through my soul and my hope is that it can whirl through yours as well…

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV) Those words reawakened my faith as an adult. It was an ‘aha’ moment where all my questions and all the things that didn’t quite make sense took flight––never to be seen again. That was the moment I was brought back to the true Gospel.

When I think of Paul coming from the background of being a Pharisee, it makes sense. Although, Ephesians 2:8-9 are not the main verses weighing on me, they tie together my point and show how strongly I can relate to Paul. I feel the power in his words and can imagine how he felt as he wrote them. I see him writing those words and then pausing for a moment to bask in the peace those words bring.

Galatians 1 was the focus for bible study last week. I opened my bible and instead of listening as I should have been, I saw the underlined words I felt were important to remember at some point in my life. Those words carried me into my own mind.

“Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” (Galatians 1:1) I don’t remember why or when I wanted to remember that verse, but it somehow brings more depth not knowing. Sent not by man are good words to remember and they bring me a strength I cannot hold on my own.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7) I had this part highlighted. It is clear that we live in a world where the gospel is confused, twisted, and denied in different ways. I realize we are sinners and never will be perfect. The things is, the gospel is the core of christianity. There are too many that simply get it wrong. They forget about grace to the point they are diminishing the power of the cross. They are instead (and maybe not intentionally) trying to carry the power in their own pockets. 

“…my immediate response was not to consult any human being.” (Galatians 1:16) My uneven blue inked line told me I had quickly wanted to remember those words. Maybe it was because I was engrossed in the words that followed, but knew I wanted to remember those as well. We need to hear this every day of our lives. When we feel the Holy Spirit is leading us to do something, how many times do we immediately do it? How many times do we seek validation from man instead of God?

Galatians 1 is packed full of insight, obviously. More than that, it shows our present world and our present struggle as Christians. Christians are being divided and christianity is under a a microscope. I think if we are honest, we can see that in some ways it should be. Many have strayed. Many are bound by the chains of losing sight of the truth. Be a Paul in someone’s life and point them back to the true meaning of the Gospel. Bring them back to freedom.

Under the Tree

I meet you at the foot of the tree,

where you can lean your weary soul.

Feel the power of the shade it provides.

And, strength of the hope it gives.

The tree will never fail or fall.

No matter how the strong winds blow.

There are woodlands of other enticing trees.

There implies, in My tree lies a dreadful desert.

I tell you, they’re nothing but wrong.

Here in this humble tree,

lies all the pasture you’ll ever need.

Please, come sit back down with Me.

Hold dear––you are under My wing,

of the tree where I shed my blood for thee.

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Easy like Sunday Morning

bible-1031288_1920I’m easy like Sunday morning…

That song popped up in my head this morning. I guess it goes to show how much sarcasm is simply wired in my brain. Oh boy, at least I make myself laugh. ‘Cause let me tell you, this lovely Sunday morning started out as anything but easy.

My youngest had a hard time staying in his Sunday school class. We eventually bribed him. Mom of the year award, right? He eventually walked in the classroom and plopped on the floor with his arms crossed. Just as sarcasm flows through my veins, stubbornness flows through Oliver’s. At least he isn’t crying, I thought and off I went to meet Matt to head to our bible class. After I checked on him a couple more times, that is.

After dealing with that, we weren’t eager to get to class. We went, of course. It took a few minutes and a few deep breaths to be able to focus. The subject was on slowing down, something I actually just blogged on recently. Gotta love the way God reinforces things for us. There is something about slowing down that sometimes leads us to feel guilty. We shouldn’t, but it’s as though we feel we can’t say no. We feel like we are being lazy if our calendars aren’t filled to the brim. Anyway, the leader even had all of us stop and sit silently for a full minute. Powerful to think of a room full of adults in complete silence.

After class and before worship started, Matt whispered how he was glad we went to class this morning. I nodded and added how funny it is that Satan works hard on those Sunday mornings when you really need to hear something. Satan sure is a jerk!

Like I have said before. Don’t just turn to God. Turn away to God. Turn away from the busyness, the distractions, and all the other noise of this world. When we don’t stop and sit at the feet of Jesus––when we don’t stop and study His word––just think of what we are really missing. His still small voice is what we are missing and that is what we need more than anything in this crazy world.

Freedom

rain.jpgDid you ever play in the rain as a kid? I did. I’ll never forget this one time during my brother’s baseball game. Sporadic heavy raindrops began to fall from the sky as I played in a nearby tennis court with my friends. The rain slowly turned into a steady rainfall. My friends and I lifted our arms high and tilted our heads back as we allowed the rain to land in our open mouths. I remember the laughter that flowed from us and the glances that bonded us in that moment. Time slowed and we were nothing else but free.

Sitting here thinking of that moment, I can almost feel the same freedom I felt that day. I believe if it were to start raining right now I would want to run outside and try to relive it. I wouldn’t actually do it though. That is, unless my kids were with me. I would feel like an idiot standing in the rain by myself.

We all yearn for freedom. Look at the world around you. People are always seeking and fighting for it. Or, they’re in pain because they can’t find it or simply don’t have the strength to fight for it. What I see are people clinging to the the wrong kind of freedom or things that are not freedom at all. They just think or hope it is. Because those freedoms are always in exchange for something else. I wonder if deep down they feel a void knowing it isn’t what they really need to be seeking. Those freedoms are only temporary, they are shallow puddles that will soon dry.

Like me standing in the rain. That free feeling ceased. My friends and I became bored and cold. We ran to our families packing up the cars because the game had ended. I remember having no towel in the car and I couldn’t wait to get home to change into dry clothes. Dry socks never felt so good. The rain was a childhood freedom. Some of my best memories surround such freedoms. Childhood freedoms, although innocent and pure, are temporary as well.

There is only one real freedom in this life and that is freedom in Christ. Many of us “adult” christians know this already. Yet, we hesitate like I do when the thought of playing in the rain crosses my mind. Why can’t we fully embrace this freedom? I already know the answer. It’s because we’re all sinners. But I still wonder…what would happen if we started running and clinging to it like a child, regardless of what sin was standing in the way?

Childlike faith, I believe it’s called. 😉

Would we better sway people away from the false freedoms they are rooted in if they saw us clinging more to the truth our hearts hold so dear? I think about my kids and the type of faith I want them to carry throughout their lives. All I see is a picture of them standing in the rain with their arms up high and heads tilted back because they know freedom, real freedom, never will cease.

Dear Matt

Matt, I am covered in my favorite blanket listening to the sweet snoring of our dog Ranger. It isn’t actually a sweet sound at all. It is rather annoying. I am trying to block it out as I type up a little blog post for our anniversary that is tomorrow.

I am not good at blocking out such noises and presently I am thankful I cannot. I laugh at myself as I think of how a dog snoring can conjure up an idea. It is just the crazy way my mind works, I guess. Bear with me for a minute while I try to explain.

I glanced back at our dog and was tempted to say his name loudly in hopes he’d wake up from his slumber––so his snoring would cease. I stopped myself though. He looked so peaceful. Our dog has been through so much. We almost lost him. A thought popped up in my mind and it brought his snoring to a quiet background noise. What if we didn’t have Ranger?

It then got me thinking. What if I didn’t have you? You know, you have a sometimes annoying snore as well. What if I didn’t have your snore to wake me up? Seriously, what if we had never met? I’m going to make myself cry. No Matt in my life? Which would mean no Luke and no Oliver either. I can’t bear the thought. I love you and our precious family. I will never stop trying to be the best wife and mother I can be. You boys really do make it easy to never stop trying.

When you are married with kids it is easy to forget how life could have went another way. You get busy. You get used to your life and can take each other for granted. You can allow the little things turn into big things that cloud the good and beautiful things. I think we try not to, but sometimes it just happens.

I immediately think of you wanting to use my pillow or you wanting to sleep on my side of the bed. Do I get annoyed at this sometimes? Of course I do. When I take a step back, though, it is actually something I never want you to stop doing. Funny, how our boys do the same thing, isn’t it? They find comfort in our bed and in using their Mommy’s pillow and blanket. Nothing makes me feel more loved and special than you boys finding comfort in me.

I’m forever thankful every step in my life led me to you and that we now walk this crazy life side by side. I am blessed to have you. I love that you still find comfort in me after all these years. Maybe, just maybe, I ‘ll even let you use my pillow from time to time.

With all my love, Stacy.

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The Rush of Life

imageI was pretty excited to find a line at the busy grocery store that had just one person checking out. You know that feeling, right? I bet you also know the feeling when you realize you picked the wrong line at the store. Like I said, I was pretty excited. I was able to immediately begin to unload my cart. I got about a quarter of the way unloaded when I had to wait for more room. I stood with a few things in hand waiting and watching. Everything moved soooooo slooooow. I kept my positive attitude, though. Maybe the cashier was having a hard time with something. I eventually saw the truth. She was just sloooow and I was stuck. Because, come on, I’m not going to reload my cart and find a new line. That would be mean. I would just stand there and wait––and complain in my head.

It finally was my turn. A lady behind me stood and waited and watched for a few minutes. She saw how sloooow the cashier was and decided to find a new line. Another lady came up and waited and watched. Same thing, she left for a new line. Man came. Same thing, he was out. I saw a supervisor or manager person walk past a few times watching her sloooowly do her job. So, instead of my eyes darting all over the store in boredom, I began watching her work. She never looked up, never stopped working, and wasn’t messing anything up.

Her small, shaky hands struggled to get the plastic bags apart. My impatience turned into understanding. “Those bags always seem to stick, don’t they?” She chuckled and said they do. She looked up, smiled, and continued working. It took her a very long time, but she finished. I swiped my card and it asked on the screen if I was satisfied with the check out time. No, was my first instinct. Then I changed my mind and pressed yes. I was satisfied because it made me stop and think.

We all need to slooow the you-know-what down. We expect to much from people. We want speed and we want perfection. I’m not just talking about wanting to find the fastest lines. We hurry with everything. We want the fast track. We want what we want when we want it. We want our kids to learn how to do this and that by a certain age. We worry and beat ourselves up when we see they don’t. We do the same for ourselves. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why is there so much pressure?

We are so busy rushing that we are missing the small moments. To me, it is the small moments that make life meaningful. Your wedding day is just another wedding day without all the small moments throughout. I’ll never forget the night before my wedding when I found a card Matt had hidden under my pillow for me. I’ll never forget a sentence that the pastor said that made me forget all the people staring at me from behind…which made me nervous. It was just Matt, me, and the pastor after that point. All those small moments were what brought beauty into our special day.

Let me not forget about God in this moral of the story. In all our rushing we are at risk of drowning out the blessings that God has right in front of us. That cashier was a blessing to me and I almost missed it. Wow. I almost missed something that I needed reminded of very badly.

What blessings might you have missed?

 

Stepping Out

Today we have plans to spend the day at the pool, our favorite family hangout place as of this summer. The weather is not quite warm enough, but we may suffer through because the pool closes for the season after today. As I am waiting and hoping for the breeze to slow a bit so we can go, I sit on our deck and am quite enjoying the breeze. So, I cannot make up my mind if I love or hate it. Oh the fickleness of it all.

There is something in a warm breeze that pulls me in. A few minutes ago, I started thinking of love and life and the different ways each and every one of us sees and feels and lives. It is overwhelming, if you think of it, how different we all are. Yes, we all have common ground and I believe you can find common ground with anyone, if you let go of your judgements and preconceived ideas of people.

If you were to be able to see through someone else’s eyes, I bet you’d see world much more different than you could possibly imagine. I think of my two boys for example. Same parents, same opportunities, same many other things. They’re opposite in the ways they take on life. They give love differently. They receive love differently.

I love my boys and I know they love me, of course. They are amazing in their own ways. I cannot imagine my life without them. One, though, is harder to understand…harder to reach. He doesn’t talk about his feelings as the other does. The other is much more like me. We talk and think things through. We are very much in touch with ourselves. We don’t get through anything without talking and expressing our feelings. When he is mad, people need to listen to how he feels and almost magically his anger dissolves.

The other doesn’t want to talk, he is quite the opposite. He does better when people let him be to sort through it on his own. I feel as though it is his way of maintaining control. Maintaining control over his life gives him peace. He appears to be more dismissive toward people who feel the need to talk. So, expressing feelings towards him sometimes feels as though he doesn’t care. I know he does care. He has a huge heart. He just is different.

Why wouldn’t someone want to talk through their feelings? One boy thinks.

Why does someone need to talk through their feelings? The other thinks.

God made people to have their own unique strengths. Those strengths can make it hard for people to understand each other. That could be where where we screw up. I mean, we aren’t God and we shouldn’t think we hold so much power as to understanding where people come from all the time. Do we even have the right to? We need to start seeing that understanding is sometimes overrated. Maybe it’s in the not understanding where the true beauty lies. Because, that is when we step out of ourselves and into something bigger and more meaningful…unconditional love.

The end.