What exactly is the good?

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As I sat waiting for Luke’s game to begin, I played with blades of grass at my feet. My mind was as calm as a glassy lake; there was not a wave nor a ripple in sight. But then my phone rang. It was my dad. He never calls me on the weekend, I thought as I answered my phone.

In one second my frame of mind shifted. The pain of this world, oh the pain. I wasn’t surprised by the news, yet each word stung. Sometimes it is the unsurprising news that hurts the most. I always hope people will respond or do differently than what I see coming. I much rather the stories of people overcoming life. The bad in life, that is. I love when people prevail.

It is a strength and a weakness that I strive to find the good in all things. The problem arises when the pain of this world is deeper than the seemingly good it can bring. I hate to see people give up on life. They throw in the towel and don’t look back, and they don’t look forward either. They remain stuck unable to move. Maybe that is why I need Romans 8:28, we all need Romans 8:28.

Wait.

What exactly does that even mean? I just talked about pain and giving up on life. Now I am encouraging a bible verse that talks about “in all things God works for the good”? Yes, I just said that and that.

Yesterday, after I wrote my blog post about this verse, I walked into my kitchen and there on my table were mason jars full of carnations. They’ve been sitting there for almost a week, but I saw them as if they just magically appeared.image I focused in on the pink ones. Romans 8:28 reminds me of my grandparents, it reminds me of my grandma’s death. Since the verse keeps popping up I have been thinking of her. Pink carnations were her favorite. They’ve been here in my house and yet it slipped my mind until that moment. As if that were not enough, I went to sit on my couch. My phone was in my hand because I was getting ready to clean and was going to put music on. (Who likes to clean without music?) I sat, thought about my grandma, pulled myself together, and then put Pandora on. I began to stand up when the song Homesick came on. It was the song they played at her funeral.

The tears flowed, I pictured my grandma’s face, and then peace came. My grandma was touched by the pain of this world, just like us all. Her pain is no more, though. She’s home. It got me thinking. That’s it, I’m homesick. We are all homesick. That is why it hurts so bad. We know we don’t belong here.

We are touched by our bad choices, other people’s bad choices, unexpected news, disease, death, and etc. We must remember our hope and truth lie in the fact that sin or anything that happens as a result cannot ruin God’s plan. His mind is set on our eternal salvation. His mind is set on bringing us home. That is why He sent His son Jesus to die for our sins. Stop and brew on that for a minute. That is powerful stuff. Nothing can stop His plan and nothing can stop His purpose of eternity.

The challenge lies not in my knowing this. It lies in my sharing this. It lies in you sharing this. How can we show people the good in God’s purpose? How can we show them that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not prevail?

Finding the Joy in Parenting


Choices. As a parent you are always making choices. Sometimes your brain is dizzy with all the things you need to decide. You want what is best for your kids and many times it is hard to measure the results. You make a choice. You hope and pray it was the right one. You wait. You breathe a sigh of relief when you find you did the right thing. You feel ill when you find you did the wrong thing. Sometimes you wait years to see if it was the right choice. Sometimes you will never know.

You have information thrown at you from all directions. It is as though everyone knows how to be the perfect parent. Well, until it is your own child that you are parenting. Because, once you look your child in the eye and feel the overwhelming love, you just know there is too much at stake to even try to pretend you know what to do all the time. Once you see your child struggle or mess up, you know there is no cookie cutter way to parent your imperfect and unique child…

How do you ease your weary mind and embrace the joy of parenting? The answer is a little different for everyone. Again, there is no cookie cutter way.

I feel like I do a decent job (most days) at enjoying this sometimes arduous journey. Here are some tips I have picked up along the way:

  1. If it isn’t broke, simply leave it alone. If something works for you and your family then screw what everyone else thinks.
  2. Do listen to advice, though. Some people know more than you. But don’t forget, it is your choice on what advice you follow.
  3. If you don’t follow someone’s advice, don’t feel guilty. Seriously, don’t. You know your child the best. You also know your own limits. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
  4. Honor your limits. Honor your spouse’s limits. Honor your kids limits. Enough said.
  5. Don’t judge other parents. You are not in their shoes. You do not know their child as they do.
  6. Don’t compare and don’t ever compete. No one enjoys being around those who try to compete or get their kids involved in such nonsense.
  7. Allow your child to be who they are, not who you think they should be. This may be hard, but, your kids know themselves better than you know them. (I have to thank my parents for doing a great job at this one.)
  8. Forget the rules sometimes. Just have fun. Sing loud, dance, and get a little goofy with them.
  9. Love them. Figure out how they feel loved. Give it to them unconditionally.
  10. Let them love you. Accept the way they show love and appreciate it.
  11. Most importantly, trust God and His will for your kids. God’s got this, guys. He really does.

Feel free to share any tips I may have missed.

 

Baa Baa Booyah

I want to start out by saying I am no sheep expert. Not even close. The most I know about sheep is what I have read in the bible, been taught in Sunday School as a child, or have heard in sermons. They have no sense of direction. They don’t like being alone. If they fall and get in a certain position they can’t get out of it. We’ve heard the stories of sheep wandering, not being able to find water, or whatever else. We are told they are not the most intelligent animals. Then, we are compared to these animals right after we are told how dumb they are.

Hmmm, I don’t think God sees us as dumb or wants us to look at ourselves as such.

I mean I get it. We are sinners. We screw up.  We can do dumb things. We are human. There is a certain sense of humility admitting these things.  So, naturally we say we are dumb like sheep. Maybe we are wrong to say this. Maybe calling sheep dumb stems from worldly thinking. What the world sees as wise and strong is not the same as what the bible tells us is such. Maybe sheep aren’t so dumb after all.

Think about this:

  1. Sheep know and follow their shepherds voice. They know it is better to follow their shepherd than to be in control of their own life. Don’t we all struggle with submitting to His will?
  2. Sheep know it is better to stay with their flock.  Yes, sometimes they get lost (don’t we all.) The point being is wandering away from the church, the body of believers, usually doesn’t turn out so well. This isn’t saying we shouldn’t be around people who don’t have faith. We need to love all people.
  3. Sheep have four stomachs.  Totally unrelated but crazy, huh?
  4. Sheep know their weaknesses. Come on, if we all admitted our weaknesses and allowed God and others to lead us in places where we falter…whoa…we could accomplish so much more.

See where I am going with this?  It takes a wise person to know following our Shepherd is the best way to live. Without a doubt, the wisest people I have known in my life were the ones who followed Him faithfully. Times when they got lost, they allowed our Shepherd to carry them on His shoulder to go back to the flock.  Ultimately they knew how dumb they were being when they lost their sheeplike (humble) attitude. I don’t know about you, but I see sheep a little differently now. What a blessing it is to be a sheep. Baa baa booyah!

 

Unwrapped Present

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Have you ever had an idea, a great idea, maybe even a brilliant idea that just sits there?  You think about it and you may talk about it.  It feels right.  It feels straight from God.  It lines up with scripture. You know you have the spiritual gifts and passion for it, but it sits there on your shelf in a neatly wrapped package, untouched. Well I have. I actually do right now. When I think about reaching out to unwrap and use it something stops me.

I used to daydream about it. Then I would get impatient and disappointed in myself for not doing something. I was almost convinced it was fear stopping me, but when I would reach out to grab it that something that stopped me felt right too. Makes sense, right? It was like I knew this was something I truly need to do, but also I knew it something I was not ready to do.

I prayed, prayed, and prayed some more. I was reminded of God’s timing. God does not live through the restraints of time like we do. A day, a month, a year doesn’t mean much as far as eternity goes. He is patient, he properly prepares us, he knows the plan we need to follow. Trust Him and His timing…know there is a time for urgency and there is a time to wait. Waiting is not a bad thing.

Someone once told me something I really need to remember every day of my life. It was something like this: God first, then your family, then your ministry (or God’s work), then everything else. When you get these out of order you will see it in every aspect of your life. So, maybe the reason why I haven’t been able to unwrap my present is because I had these a little mixed up. And I didn’t fully realize it. You probably don’t fully realize it. You are doing the best you think you can, you are doing good things, and you are a good person. You are just doing things out of order.

Through the busyness of life, we get swept away and Satan loves it. It is his best attack against us faithful God-fearing ones. He knows we aren’t going to stop believing in God and trying to do His work, so he tries messing with the order in which we should follow. Next time you have that great idea and it seems to just sit there, try looking at the order in which you are following. Maybe all you need to do is move things around a bit and God will help unwrap your present when the time is right.

My Shield and Thorn

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I love to help people.  It is something deeply rooted, so deeply rooted, I believe it takes up the largest part of my personality. I care for people to the point it hurts.  It’s the thing I cannot change.  It’s the thing I look for in others and cannot understand when they could care less about helping others. How can you not want to help?  

I get frustrated when I see people who refuse to help when it is needed. Those are the times I bite my tongue, those are the times I pray for understanding. Most times, I see the reason why. Sometimes all I see is a hardened (selfish) heart. Then I pray to understand the pain that caused their heart to harden. I pray and even when the understanding doesn’t follow, I tend to let go. It does eat away at me when I cannot see the cause. But, it eats away at me more when I have harsh feelings toward a person.

Does the inability to stay frustrated–the wanting to always see the why behind the negative make me weak?  Maybe it does.  Maybe I am too kind and too sensitive.  I may be one who gets walked over my entire life. The thing is, I accept this “weakness” God has given to me.  I know it is better than holding hate in my heart.  It’s better than always being disappointed in people.

It is a struggle to stand firm in my kindness, knowing it as both a strength and weakness. I will always pray for understanding within myself and within others as well.  I will always hold some doubt and over-think this part of me. Satan will continue to use this against me.  He’s mean like that.

It isn’t always easy and I fail at times to place my trust in God. Despite my stubborn ways, He never fails to bring me back to the truth. My kindness is my shield and my thorn. It is more a beautiful shield, though, in this sometimes ugly world.

What is your shield and thorn?

Caution: Road Block Ahead

imageMy normal twenty-minute trip of taking Oliver to school took me about 45 minutes this morning. Even my alternative route was closed.  So I had to go another way, then another, and another. I got home and made myself a cup of coffee before I took off again to go shopping…by myself. Any parent knows the joy it brings to shop alone. I cannot tell you the frustration I felt when I looked out my window and saw my road was blocked. Yep, I live on the corner of a court with no other way out. I felt trapped and completely ticked.

All I could think of was how the construction is messing with my life and plans.  

I took a few deep breaths and then sat in my favorite chair. My 72 pound lap dog jumped up on my lap and nestled in. Ranger’s drowsy eyes looked up at me before his big wrinkly head landed on my hand. He loudly exhaled and then closed his eyes.  Within a minute he was snoring.

Apparently my dog was quite pleased with the construction that led to my being trapped. I rubbed his head with my free hand and began to relax. I realized I probably needed my dog and favorite chair more than I needed shopping. I began to sip my coffee and my thoughts carried me away.  I wish I could say they carried me away from construction, but it was not so.

It dawned on me how easily we become frustrated with road blocks. Sometimes it is all we think about.  Sometimes it trickles down into every aspect of our lives.

I’m not speaking the literal sense of a road block. I’m sure you’ve already picked up on that, though. You may even be nodding you head and are thinking of a situation in your own life. You are ready to move on. You want to go where you think/know you want/need to go, but you just can’t get there for because of the stinking road block.

Presently, I do not have any major road blocks. At least none I am aware of. I can recall the ones I’ve had in the past. I remember the frustration. I remember the only if’s. Only if…then my life would be better. I could accomplish more. I could be a better mom, spouse, friend, or whatever. I could be more faithful.  I could be more…

What we fail to see is the significance of the road block. God needs for us to stop so He can do the construction needed within us and around us. He is the one who knows the best path. We need to trust Him when He takes us on unexpected or inconvenient ways.

Amazing how with just a twist of perspective, the meaning of trapped and inconvenienced transforms into our ever-loving God fixing and beautifying us and our path called life.

Season of Change

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The once green leaves darkened and dried.

I never thought to just let them go.

I prayed for strength to keep and bear them.

 

Still, the crisp air came and began to rip them away.

Some twirled, some plummeted, some fast, some slow.

But all landed on the ground around me.

 

I didn’t believe they would wander far.

Give me the strength Lord, please.

They may still come back to me.

 

Slowly the wind picked them up.

One by one they flew further and further.

I tried reaching down to grab them.

 

God simply told me no.  

 

I realized a season of change had come.

New leaves would surely emerge.

But only after the release of all the old.