Musings of a Super Girl | Archives 2
26. I love storms. Especially from inside my house. I look out and watch the rain pour down, see the trees whip back and forth in the wind. The lightening lights up the cloud darkened sky. Thunder shakes the glass in the window frames. Rivers of water flow down the street. I love it.
When it's all over the trees stand a little straighter, the flowers are a bit brighter. Birds flit from limb to limb, chirping their excitement over being able to stretch their wings again. The air is fresher, all the grime washed away.
We're in the middle of storms here. Not weather related but a part of life. Storms come in, pounding at our windows, rattling the very foundations of our homes. In the midst of them we're shaken, left trembling and praying that it will be over soon. I do not love these storms.
When these are over, when the rage and confusion subsides, I step out into brightness and calm, not knowing quite what to do with it. I know deep down that we must pass through these times whether it's fighting for our children or holding their hands through heartbreak; whether we are paying the consequences for our own decisions or lifting up a loved one who is. I know we must go through these life storms.
The one thing we can all hold on to as these tempests scour us is this:
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. - Matthew 7:25
We will not fall. Our houses are strong, our foundation is solid. We will not fall.
June 6, 2013
27. Don't look back. Don't count the cost. Don't stop until it's done.
Several years ago my children went on vacation with their father. At the end of the vacation he didn't bring them back to me. And thus began the nightmare. I fought here in the States until my options ran out. Then I fought in the country where he had the kids. In the course of that my oldest son, my parents, and I were all briefly jailed on false charges. The kids were locked in their paternal grandparent’s home. The fight was long, ugly, costly, and painful.
During that time I would awaken from sleep thinking I could hear my 6 year old daughter crying for me in the night only to realize that she wasn't there. Other times I would wake up from a dream spent with the kids, holding my 3 year old son on my lap, to the reality that my arms were empty.
My babies were punished for calling me. When that wasn't enough to stop them, the phone was removed from the house. Even that didn't stop them; they found another way. Once that was discovered, it was denied them as well. Yet they fought on.
Lies were told about me and to me. Twisted evidence was brought. Attempts were made to humiliate and destroy me.
Like I said, the fight was ugly, it was painful. In the end, we were triumphant; the kids and I came home. Through it our mantra was, “Don't look back. Don't count the cost. Don't stop until it's done.”
I know that most people don't go through a storm like that. But we all go through them at some point. Maybe you're in the midst of a battle that doesn't look like it can be won. You can do it. You'll make it through. It's not just me promising you that, it's a promise from our Father.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
Don't look back. Don't count the cost. Don't stop until it's done.
June 20, 2013
28. To my children:
I dreamed for you. I dreamed of big houses, beautiful children. For you I dreamed of vacations in the sand, true love, and bliss. I dreamed that suffering of this world never touch you profoundly, that you would never know real pain. I dreamed a fairy tale life for you. I dreamed of these things before you were born, before I knew your name or the color of your eyes.
Reality had a different plan. I know that you're hurting, that you're scared, that you feel alone. You feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Will it ever end? Will you ever get to live the life I dream of for you?
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. - Psalm 23
Today hurts, I know, tomorrow might too, but don't be afraid, you are protected. You are loved more completely than I ever could. All will be well.
June 27, 2013
29. It's Independence Day, so this is going to be a bit political.
Our government has and is taking steps to limit our religious freedom. Christian beliefs are under attack. Abortion, homosexuality, greed are on display and are shoved down our throats daily. Christian groups are under scrutiny and are, in fact, on the list of those to watch for domestic terrorism. We've seen this before in other countries, we've seen it played out through history. And now it's happening to us.
Romans 13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
Paul's words to us in Romans 13 are hard to swallow in light of this. He tells us to submit to these authorities, to those who would crush us? And he said them during the ugliest times for Christians! What was he thinking? Wasn't he in rebellion of the authorities by not worshiping Caesar?
Given that Paul was in prison several times for his ministry, I would venture to guess that this does not hold true when that authority goes against God's will. We have seen DOMA over turned. We have seen religious organizations told that they will have to provide insurance coverage for abortions. And we have seen what vindictive groups will do to those that they don't agree with.
We may not be in immediate danger of going to prison, but we are in danger of being broken up, being told to shut up and sit down. We are on the verge of being legally censored. It is time for us to stand. We MUST stand strong, stand true. We must stand on the promise of God that we are saved, that we believe in the one true God.
In the States we are blessed with the understanding that speaking out against that which we believe is wrong is, indeed, patriotic. We can use that in the face of what is happening to us. It is not time to sit and cower. It's Independence Day! Let's fight to remain so.
God bless America!
July 4, 2013
30. My 16 year old son and I do CrossFit at the same gym. We don't usually work out together; I go in the morning, he goes in the late afternoon. Every day we tell each other what we did (he does an NFL workout, I do not). Yesterday was no exception.
“Hey, James, guess what I did today?” I asked.
Without giving me time to answer my own question he said, “You deadlifted 95 lbs.!”
As it turns out, James looks at the board to see what I did that day and then compares it to what I have done. Yesterday he told me he's proud of me. Just remembering him saying that gives me a lump in my throat. My kid is PROUD of me! How cool is that?
I pondered that for the rest of the evening. Thinking back on past conversations with my other children, they're proud of me too. They mostly say good things about me to their friends (obviously not when they're in trouble). It made me think about how the parent/child relationship is a reflection of our relationship with our Father.
Are we proud of Him? Do we brag about Him? Do we want everybody we know to know how super cool our Father is?
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. - Matthew 10:32-33
July 11, 2013
31. Most of the incidences involve “Shut up!”, “No, YOU shut up!”, and similar forms of intelligent argument. Sometimes it involves a whine about her wanting to play his video game or him not letting her win when he does let her play. Usually the only part I'm privy to comes after the bellow or squeal; the response to my interrogation is one version or another of “He did ... to me first!”
And the picking! Holy nitpicking, Batman! These two can, with laser sharp precision, identify weakness and tender spots. They have no qualms about leaving the other wounded and bleeding. In fact, they seem to see it as victory when the one storms off or the other cries.
I don't believe that siblings are the only ones that do this. They're just more blatant about it. My husband and I walk through Walmart, confident in our own perfection, picking apart the people around us. I overhear snippets of conversation in which a non-present person is ripped to shreds. We read stories in the news about the awful things people do to each other.
The only thing I can think of to rectify this in my own world is to change my daily mantra to “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” and “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:31, 36. I dare you to do the same.
July 18, 2013
32. Buried deep in my heart there is a Pit. It is black and deep. Actually, it feels bottomless. The Pit is so filthy, so crammed full of nastiness, that the areas surrounding it are tainted too. It's a scary place that pulls me back to its brink time and again. In the back of my mind is the urge to jump, just like looking down from a great height. “Go on, just jump. You know you want to,” it whispers at me from its depth.
The Pit is filled with secrets. Not your run of the mill secrets. We're talking about the kind that if anybody knew the truth, they'd all abandon me. That's what The Pit tells me anyway. Nobody could possibly love me; I can't love me, if the secrets are released.
And guilt! The Pit is full of guilt. Guilt and doubt. Everything from the most terrible thing I've done, to things that just didn't go according to plan. The doubt in The Pit is a bog. It pulls me down, tries to drown me. My feet won't move forward, my mouth can't release a scream. Guilt feeds on my fear.
I hear a voice roar in disgust, “I know your folly, your guilt is not hidden from me,” and, “Would I not have discovered it, since I know the secrets of your heart?” My shame deepens. The Pit promises destruction if it is purged of its favorite weapons, my secrets, my guilt. So I hang on to them in desperation.
Yet a whisper floats through the cacophony of despair. “My love will follow you all the days of your life.” There is only one who knows The Pit. One who came in after me and pulled me out. He promised me that I am loved. There are no secrets and guilt, he already knows them all. The Pit can threaten and make me tremble, but its promises are empty.
July 25, 2013
33. As I listened to the episode of "Repo Games" playing in the other room, I went from amused at the complete, self-inflicted stupidity of the people on the show to absolute horror and disgust. Two women were shocked to find that their cars were being repossessed because their husbands took out loans on the vehicles, without the wives' knowledge, and failed to pay them back. These men didn't merely fail to protect their wives; they threw them under the bus to save their own skins.
While I know that there is no new thing under the sun, that men and women have been taking advantage of each other forever, and there really didn't exist a "golden age" of marriage, I long for the days of common chivalry. Whether or not we like it, women long for a protector, a hero. We want to be cherished. We crave the knowledge that our men will love us for the treasures we are. Regardless of what society tells us what liberation is, we were made to desire a protector in our husbands.
This current idea of what marriage should like is confusing to the way we were made. The cries of "Women are equal!" are both right and wrong. We are equal. We have equal value, intelligence, work ethic, and bread winning capabilities. But we are not equal. We are different. We are delicate, tender nurturers.
Ms. Steinem would have us believe that in order to be equal to a man we must be the same as them. However, if we're honest, our inner beings sob silently at what we've lost. We still daydream about our knights in shining armor. We plead with ourselves to stop seeking out that fool who's "in touch with his feminine side." We over compensate by clinging to that guy who has to be the manliest man in the room.
You know, it's quite all right to let yourself be taken care of, to have the door opened and your chair pulled out for you. It is truly liberating to be able to hand off your heavy load to stronger arms and shoulders. It is more than acceptable to admit that you want to have a human shield and to be viewed as the most beautiful woman in any given room. We can find true freedom to be who we are when we can accept that what we really want are bodyguards and lovers.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church... Ephesians 5:25-29
August 1, 2013
34. Several years ago I was walking from the secondary school building to the elementary school building making me usual trek between the two. As I turned the corner onto the main boulevard a car came flying through the cut to turn onto the street I was just on. The driver didn't see the other car barreling towards him. The crash wasn't as loud as I thought it would be.
In a matter of seconds I saw the crash, watched as the front of the first car flew off, and gaped at it hurtling towards me. No time to run, scream, or even gasp. The second car stopped on impact, the first (what was left anyway) spun and stopped a few feet in front of me, the driver's legs dangling where the pedals should have been. I looked down and saw the engine a few inches to my left and the battery a few inches to my right. The battery had burst open and covered me in acid.
Now might be a good time to mention that I was wearing a tank top. The battery acid coated my clothing, my glasses, and the ground around me. Not a drop on my skin. Not a single drop.
There is no doubt in my mind that I was protected.
Not all moments where my Father has held me close are so visually dramatic, so obvious. All the years I endured being told that I was nothing, told that I was only worth the children I could produce, how good I made somebody else look, made to feel fat, ugly, and stupid, God was there. He gave me the strength to go on, to fight, to hang on to that little voice in the back of my mind that reminded me those horrible lies were just that, lies.
For years I walked through fire to escape those lies. I raged against those who would drag me back down. I looked to one side and saw the ruins of what should have been holy and to the other I saw the battle to be free. The battle had burst open and covered me in its vileness.
But not a drop damaged me. Not a single drop. Instead it made me stronger, healed my wounded faith, and made me beautiful.
There is no doubt in my mind that I am protected.
So are you.
“But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. - Isaiah 41:8-10
August 8, 2013
35. “I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.”
Robert N. Munsch
Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched my youngest strut to the car. Yes, he had the full swagger going on; helmet and pads in one hand, water bottle in the other. His cleats on the pavement went “clack, clack, clack”. And the expression on his face was priceless! I've never seen him look that confident.
A lump lodged itself firmly in my throat as I listened to my oldest tell me all about his first day of college. He took a placement test in his math class and wanted to brag to me about being in college level classes. This is a big deal because neither one of us are strong in math. For example, we are pretty sure that 2+2 is 5 but we could be wrong.
Those two are 10 years apart and there are three in between them. Every day one or the other of them gives me a reason to swell with pride or cry in desperate fear for them.
It seems like yesterday I was rocking my oldest to sleep. His tiny hand wrapped around my finger, his mouth furiously working a pacifier. Now he wraps his arm around my shoulder and I look up at him. I feel like the last page in Robert Munsch's book “I'll Love You Forever”. For those of you that don't know the book, at the end the son is holding his elderly mother, rocking her frail body and repeating the word, “I'll love you forever...” that she spoke to him his whole life.
They grow so fast, we have so little time. So little time to teach them to be gentlemen and ladies. To chew with their mouths closed. To put the toilet seat down. To say please and thank you. To shave (legs or face depending on gender). But most importantly, we have so little time to teach them that God is the single most important thing in their lives; if we fail at the rest, we must succeed at that.
One day they will choose for themselves whether they want to go to church on Sunday or even follow the beliefs of their upbringing. Until that day we must teach them the truth. Mom, Aunt, Grandma, Friend. It is our duty to teach them. In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When we do that we can rest easy in the promise in Proverbs 22:6: Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
August 22, 2013
36. “And they'll know we are Christians by our love.” I greatly dislike singing that hymn. It seems so hypocritical. Don't agree? Let me give you some examples of why I believe that song is misleading:
Westboro Baptist Congregation
Hateful speech, hateful behavior spews out of televisions, across our Facebook newsfeeds, out of the car radio. And we sing, “They'll know we are Christians by our love.” Ha! Is it any wonder we are looked on by society in general with disdain?
While those are “just” public figures, what about private figures who misuse Christianity as a bludgeon? I have quite a few friends who've walked away from faith because of them. I'll bet you do too.
What do we do? The damage is done. There's no fixing it now. Let's give up. Right? No.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. - Galatians 3:26-29
This is the message we need to live. If we are to combat the hateful images that others who claim Christianity display, we must live this passage in Galatians.
Pray for me as I go out into the world today that I can live this passage. I'll pray for you.
August 29, 2013
37. With the suicide of Ariel Castro in the news I found myself responding to it with anger. Actually, it was border line rage. How dare he? He couldn't take the tiniest taste of what he'd done to his victims and opted for the coward's way out. He robbed them of the justice they so desperately need. And, with complete human emotion, I hoped he is rotting in hell.
And then I was asked, “How dare you?” It's true. How dare I wish hell on another? I am not the judge, thankfully. We've all heard it said, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” What makes me any better than Ariel Castro? It's certainly not because the sins I have a penchant for are somehow less. James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
Thankfully, as Paul wrote in Romans 6, we are going to live in glory with our Father. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
I'm praying for us all today. For grace, peace, and love. And that we show it to others.
September 5, 2013
38. There is so much going on right now that I can't write about. These happenings have capsized my life and the lives of my children. I am terrified of what the future holds for one of them. And so I do what we do best. I worry. A lot. I also field phone calls from others trying to make sense of it all. Put on my “I'm pulled together” face for the children, for loved ones, and move on through the day.
I have no doubt that you all have experienced something similar. Something you can't share, can't let go of. Something that leaves you crying out in anguish. Something that leaves you worried and afraid.
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? - Matthew 6:28-30
I know that promise is there. But there are times, like today, when I am of little faith. I know that God is going to take of me, take care of my babies. I know that he's going to work it all for our good because we believe in him. I know this, yet I am worried and I am afraid.
I told him that this morning. Told him that I don't know what to do. I know that it's supposed to all be OK; I asked him why he wasn't letting me see it. You know what he's sent running through my head?
“...Be still, and know that I am God...”
Be still and know that he is God. My father. My creator. The one who promised that he would take care of me. Take care of us.
Pray for me, ladies, while I walk this path. I'll pray for you while you are walking yours.
September 12, 2013
39. I couldn’t find my daughter after the game. She wasn’t out in the open and I couldn’t get into the building to see if she was there. I fumed as I searched. I walked around a corner and there she was, chatting with her friends in the first place I looked. After a while she told me she was sorry she scared me and made me mad. “Prove it,” I said. “How?” she asked. “By not doing it again,” I replied. While she rested her head on my shoulder, a thought ran through my mind.
My son worries all the time that his height is going to hinder him in continuing to play football after high school. Football is one of his passions; he’s sacrificed a lot in order to excel at it. Yesterday he told me that he realized that he may not have the height but he makes up for it in strength. He asked me to go ahead and get him enrolled on the scholarship sites. Yesterday a thought ran through my mind while I listened to him encourage himself.
Last week I told you that we’ve got some big, bad scariness going on over here. It’s still going on and it will for a while, it’s just got to play itself out; we just need to walk through it. Today a thought ran through my mind while I was encouraging my garden to hurry up and finish growing before this unseasonable cold snap turns into full blown autumn.
That thought was quite simple: this is the day that the Lord has made. This is it, today. He made it. He gave it to me. Today might be beautiful; I might breeze through it. Today might be rough; I may have to struggle until bedtime. Today might be scary; I might have to fight to make it through. Regardless of what today might be it IS the day my Lord made for me (Psalm 118:24).
Whatever the day our Father gave you turns out to be, remember this, especially the last part “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1)
September 19, 2013
40. So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
I read an article this week about the integrity of a Dairy Queen employee. A blind customer dropped a $20 bill on the floor accidentally; the woman in line behind him snatched the bill off the floor and put it in her purse. When the DQ employee told her to return it to the man, she refused. Ultimately the employee had to ask the woman to leave. When she had gone, the employee opened his own wallet, took out $20 and gave it to the blind customer on behalf of the store. (Here is the whole story:
How many times have we been tempted to act as the woman did? Or maybe just to step back and not get involved? Too many, I’ll bet. I can’t even think of all the times that I’ve been tempted to just walk away, let alone keep what I’ve found. This week I challenge us to follow Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:12, to follow the example that the young man at Dairy Queen set. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
September 26, 2013
41. If it’s not obvious by now, I am a proud mama. I love my children to pieces, thrill in their successes, and brag incessantly. Yeah, I’m that mom. “Hey! Guess what (whichever kid) did today?” makes up quite a bit of my conversation. There is no doubt in my mind that I make quite a few of my friends want to gag over my infatuation with my not-so-miniature humans. Even when their actions let me down and make me question my ability to parent, I love them and am proud of them.
We hear hellfire and brimstone preached to us over and over again. We hear that our God hates sin and seem to also hear that he therefore hates us. We hear about what a punishing God he is; after all, a loving God would never send us to hell right? In an effort to please this God and fight to be perfect, we hide ourselves away from the world, become pompous in our preaching, or pretend to be perfect on the outside.
Let us not forget, our God is a proud papa. He loves us to pieces, even when we let him down. He doesn’t take our consequences away, but he doesn’t stop loving us because of our errors. In fact, he sent us a replacement to overcome our shortcomings. And if you should ever doubt that, take a look at John 3:16 and rest assured in the promise of Deuteronomy 31:6:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
October 3, 2013
42. Have you ever heard the saying, “Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, ‘Oh crap, she’s up!’”? I’m not that woman. I suspect that most of us are not. What I truly suspect is that when our feet hit the floor in the morning, the devil wrings his hands and giggles in delight imaging all the things he’s going to do to mess with us today.
Yesterday I wanted to squish somebody’s head, punch somebody else in the throat, and use my words like a cat o’ nine whip. And then the kids and I left for school. The day didn’t progress much better. I spent most of it rolling my eyes, keeping my hands to myself, and biting my tongue. I was proud of myself for not throwing my laptop across the room. And then evening came. My teenage daughter and I were in deep conversation about her woes and I was back to pondering the option of squishing heads. Ever have one of those days? What about brief moments like that in the middle of an otherwise great day?
Earlier this summer my parents, my son, and my little brothers were facing back-to-back tornado warnings. My mind kept jumping back to the tornado that hit Joplin (where they live). When I got the call from my daughter asking if I’d heard from G’ma and G’pa or Jonathan and heard why she was panicking, my knees hit the floor. Terror washed over me. I heard from my parents, they were safe, no they hadn’t heard from Jonathan. Ten hours later he walked through their front door. He’d been rerouted through Kansas, his phone died, and he had seen things that will give him nightmares for the rest of his life. When I heard his voice my knees hit the floor again. This time it was relief.
Life is a battlefield. Whether we’re facing teenage woes or the worst kind of “bring you to your knees” nightmare, we are on a battlefield. The devil isn’t afraid of our waking; I think he looks forward to it.
King David gave us an excellent Battle Cry in Psalm 91. Here are verses 9-13:
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
Whatever our day brings us, I pray this for us, dear ladies. Let the devil bring on his mischief, our Lord is our refuge, no harm will overtake us; then he will say, "Oh crap, she's up!"
October 10, 2013
43. United States Congress. Miley Cyrus. George Zimmerman. All have one thing in common: they are the subject of hateful speech, thoughts, and actions. Agree with them or not, we have behaved truly horribly towards them. We’ve torn them down, publicly ridiculed them, and surrounded them with a climate of disdain.
These are “just” public figures. How often do we do that in our private lives, to private individuals? Don’t think you do it? Take a walk through Wal-Mart without at least inwardly smirking at fellow shoppers. We think the children are watching TV and can’t hear us as we rip apart crazy Aunt Ethel. Rants about a coworker’s habits, a classmate’s style of dress, a neighbor’s lawn spew thoughtlessly from our lips and spill into our children’s ears. They are learning from us, learning what a Christian off the pew looks like and we are not painting a pretty picture.
We need to come back to our prime directive: Love. In Matthew 22:36-39 the disciples ask Jesus what the greatest commandment is. He replies, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
We must mend these hearts we’ve broken. We must come back to love. Must. Must. MUST! After all without it we are obnoxiously clanging cymbals.
October 24, 2013
44. Politicians, pundits, and reporters keep talking about reform. And then they lay out their plans to change the existing system into something completely different. As they speak I hear the words of Iñigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” The definition of the word “reform” is “the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory”.
In 1517 Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenburg All Saints Cathedral door and launched the world into religious chaos. Luther, Calvin, Wycliffe, and Hus along with many others saw the corruption, the evil, in the Catholic Church at the time and set out to change it. They saw how the church had strayed from the truth of Christianity; mercy, forgiveness was for sale, for example. The church ruled with a corrupt iron fist. They took on the all power ruling church and God took care of them as they sought to right the wrongs. An example of God’s protection was Carlos V of Spain. He plotted to assassinate Luther and Calvin in an attempt to crush the movement; however he was distracted by political maneuvers with England. By the time Carlos was able to act against the reformers it was too late, their influence had grown considerably stronger.
Over time we have seen the church undergo many “…forms”. The church has been reformed, conformed, and reformed again. I believe that we are in a time conformation and need to look back at the 95 Theses. We need to reform again, go back to the basics of Christianity, remember that we are no longer of the world even though we’re still in it. Use the word as it defined.
Having said all that, the “…form” I’m looking forward to is Transform. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
There will be more like Carlos V who want to crush the movement to a renewed, truth seeking church. But the promise is there, we will be transformed. So let’s not worry about the Carlos V’s, let’s improve what’s wrong, corrupt, and unsatisfactory in our walk with our Lord.
October 31, 2013
45. I have a thankful heart
That you have given me
And it can only come from you
Thirty days of thankfulness has begun. Posts go up every day from friends and family listing the things they are thankful for. Maybe we’re posting our thanks as well. What are you thankful for?
Just a few things on my list of thanks (in no order of importance):
- A job
- Food in the fridge
- Running car
- My parents
- My children
- My siblings
- My husband
It is good that we take time to be thankful. I just wonder how much thought we put into it during the rest of the year. I know my prayers lean a bit towards the “gimme” and lack the “thank you”. I honestly doubt that I’m unique in that.
Paul tells us in Colossians 2:6-7 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Are we? Or do we just take it for granted? Do we stop and let the weight of what has been given to us sink in? This is my challenge as I think through these 30 days of thankfulness. It is my challenge to us all.
November 7, 2013
46. There have been times in my life where I felt completely helpless. Powerless, useless I struggled through the days. I’m not talking about depression, I’m talking about events converging on me that I had no power to thwart once they began. Sometimes they were the result of another’s actions, but I’m not looking at those times, I’m looking at the times I brought it on myself. Ring any bells?
I’ve found these events are almost always the result of blatantly intentional sinful behavior. Purposely turning my back on what I know to be good and right. Deciding to do what I think is best instead of what God has told me is best. In doing so I’ve given those who would bring me low the weapons to do so.
In Judges 16 the Philistines praised their god for just such an event.
“Our god has delivered our enemy
into our hands,
the one who laid waste our land
and multiplied our slain.”
Samson, in an act of weakness, disobeyed God’s command to him. He handed the weapons of his own undoing to his enemies. He betrayed his Father. We all know from Sunday school how that played out. The Philistines blinded him, took him as a slave, and then brought him out to humiliate him, to show they were more powerful. It must have felt as though he had been completely abandoned. I’ve been there, felt as though my Father had turned his back and left me to wither and die in my useless place. And all because of my own prideful action.
When the Philistine rulers brought him out to mock and torment, Samson prayed, “Please, God, strengthen me just once more…”
You see God didn’t abandon Samson. Yes, He let him suffer the consequences of his actions, of his pride. But He did not abandon him and Samson prayed, “Please, God, strengthen me just once more…” With that simple recognition of who he belonged to, God gave him redemption. And then he brought the roof down.
Whatever it is, whatever we have done, God will never leave us. Ever. Even when we have turned away. When we remember who we belong to, when we recognize that we need forgiveness, our strength returns. Regardless of the weapons we’ve handed the enemy, God has redeemed us. He has given us the strength to bring down the roof.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13
November 14, 2013
47. Everything was going wrong, the stress levels were through the roof, and I was helpless to do anything about it. The flow of awful things just kept coming. And I was having the most fantastic of pity parties. We're talking full blown party with balloons, streamers, and even a "Woe is me!" cake. The depth of my wallowing was in the running for the 8th wonder of the world. Oh yeah, when I do it, I do it big.
What was in the mire of turmoil isn't important. That it existed is. I let the despair ooze out around the edges and it touched everything I did. I wanted everybody to come to my little party, have a piece of the cake, and commiserate about how awful it was for me. One of my Super Girls threw her cape around her shoulders and gave me a good smack down with this verse:
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
Excuse me? Who said I wanted character, perseverance or hope? I was so mad that I had to walk away, take a deep breath, get another cup of coffee, and fume. I raged, "Where is the hope in this?" As I paced, ranted, and sipped my coffee a curiosity slipped in. What was I missing?
I was missing the first part in Romans 5. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
These verses didn't magically make all the yuckiness go away. It's still there, it still needs to be dealt with. But it's not so overwhelming now. The "Woe is me!" cake went into the disposal, the balloons and streamers came down. And I see now that there is hope in something bigger than the stuff life throws at us. There is peace with God, He promised.
1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
November 21, 2013
48. Leftovers are safely stored in the fridge. Dishes are done, kitchen is clean. After all the buildup, Thanksgiving is over in a matter of hours. I’m looking at my Facebook newsfeed and noticing an interesting phenomenon: some are posting pictures of their Thanksgiving feast, but most are posting about their Black Friday finds; not a single “30 Days of Thanks” post and we still have a couple more days to go. Oh how easily we are side tracked!
Please don’t misunderstand, I don’t believe those who enjoy the bargain hunting, camping out in freezing cold weather, and the rush to find the perfect thing at a better than perfect price are wrong or are bad people. What I do believe is we can get caught up in the rush and forget who we are and, most importantly, Who we belong to. And sometimes we forget to thank Him for the gift of having Black Friday sales and the ability to spend on this day.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
Let us remember that, not just today or through the rest of this shopping season, but through the coming year. Let’s try for 365 Days of Thanks. I know it’s going to be hard for me, it will probably be hard for you too, but let’s try anyway. After all this shopping is done we will celebrate the birth of our savior, we have plenty to grateful for.
November 29, 2013
49. I have a couple of ducks sitting on top of my copy of The Hobbit. One is stuffed and used to have a battery operated quack; several years ago it underwent a quackectomy and has been much more enjoyable since. The other is a mummy rubber ducky. They were given to me by kids number one and number 3 for different, but equally sentimental reasons. For that reason they hold places of prominence. There are things scattered around the house from all the kids that bear significant emotional weight even though they severely lack aesthetic grace.
Our beer stein collection adorns the plant shelf in the nerd room as do the Stars Wars commemorative glasses from Burger King. One of the bookshelves holds Star Wars and Batman memorabilia. An entire side of the built-in shelves in the family room is filled with family pictures while the other side holds Beatles sheet music and other oddball things. The list could go on of the things we have sitting out on display to show who we are and remind us of who we love.
The picture is of my corner of the nerd room. Can you see our Bibles? Not really? The realization that we have all of this stuff to show off who we are, to remind us of who we are, does not include a prominent place to show off WHO’S we are is embarrassing. Fortunately it’s not indicative of how we live.
I’m not suggesting that those who don’t wear crosses every day or have pictures of Jesus scattered throughout their homes are somehow less Christian than those who do. What I am saying is that we need to remember that our God, our Creator and Savior, should always have our eyes focused on him. Always. Even if our Bibles sit on a small shelf in the corner, we can still show him off to anybody who’s looking, we still give him prominence in our lives. At least we should.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
December 5, 2013
50. The Christmas season was sneaky this year. It was nice and warm; I was wearing tank tops and shorts and then, BAM! it’s snowing and merry lights are twinkling up and down my street. We’re a mere two weeks away and my tree still isn’t up, presents aren’t wrapped, and I have no idea where the stockings got off to after last Christmas. If you ask my kids it’s a sign that I’m the Grinch.
What’s the purpose of these preparations? We can put up lights that blink and flash in time to Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies or build an Everest replica of gifts, but are we really focusing on why? I sometimes think we spend far too much time getting ready and forget, or don’t really think about, what we’re getting ready for.
This is the birth of our Savior. The only reason he was born was so that he could die. He was born to die for us, and we’re caught up in whether or not our Christmas trees are everything they could be, or whether the lights on the house are hung perfectly, or whether there is a sufficient stack of presents under the tree that may or may not be lacking in perfection.
I’m going to put up my tree this weekend. I’m sure it will be beautiful. I wonder if I can find a cross to use as a topper instead of the angel or star. More importantly, I’m going to take time to remember why I’m doing it. I challenge you to take some time with me to ponder why we celebrate this season.
“… and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” – Luke 2:18,19
December 12, 2013