Musings of a Super Girl | Archives 4
76. My mother will sometimes tell the story of when she was a little girl and needed shoes for a family friend’s wedding. Her father took her shoe shopping and then for a special lunch of burgers and fries at Woolworths. They ate, chatted, and enjoyed the rare occasion that it was just the two of them; my mother is child number 4 of 9. During the conversation her father asked her when her birthday was. “Dad! You don’t know when my birthday is?” He responded, “You’re lucky I remember your name, kid.”
I feel that way some days. Especially during those moments when I run through the kids’ names trying to land on the correct one. Once, in such a flurry of name calling, I landed on Pepe and called my oldest that. The look he gave me was priceless. “I’m not the dog,” he said. Thus my statement as to how to correct his ill behavior was deflated. Not that I didn’t call him out for it, but it was much more difficult to do through the laughter.
A few days ago I asked the kids, “If God was standing in front of you, right now, in physical form, what would you ask Him?” One of them said he would want to know exactly how many hairs he has on his body. It seemed kind of frivolous to me, at the moment, and we delved into a silly conversation about why God would give girls hair on their faces, legs, and arms if we were just going to shave, wax, and laser it off. Now, I see it as a perfectly legitimate question.
And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Exodus 33:17
“Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7
It’s both scary and awesome that God knows that much about me. He doesn’t shuffle through a list of names before landing on mine. He knows all about me right down to the last hair on my head.
It’s scary because we all have those things that we would rather keep hidden. Especially from the Perfect One, from the one who holds our salvation, the one who judges us.
It’s awesome because there is relief and redemption in being known. There is healing. He knows it and loves us anyway. Loves us so much that he knows us by name, how many hairs are on our heads. Loves us so much that he relieved us of the foul stench of our sinful nature.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
- Psalm 139: 7-12
He knows me. He loves me in spite of myself. It’s true for you too.
June 19, 2014
77. To my niece:
A few days ago you stood before us, shaking like a leaf, and announced your deep and eternal love for the man standing with you. He, with tears in eyes, did the same. While your friends sang a beautiful song for you, we saw that your Love was holding your hands in his, we saw you whispering to each other, you wiped a tear from his face, he whispered, “I love you.”
Other than the “I love you,” I don’t know what else you said to each other. I don’t need to know the words spoken. I saw what I needed. Love. The kind that endures, lifts each other up, holds each other close, the kind of love that will carry you through the rough times. That comes from your Father.
There will be times when the daily trudge of life dims the romance. There will be times that anger will flare and burn away the warm feeling. There will be times that you each forget to use your words and the lack of communication will create a divide. When those times come, remember your white dress, the tearful I love you, and the promise you made to love this man.
Love is misused as an adjective or a noun. It is not a description of a feeling or a thing that can be set down and picked up. Love is a verb. It is something you decide to do, it is an action. The feeling is fickle, the action is not. You chose this man, he chose you. Even when the feeling of infatuation is absent, you love him. When the dirty socks miss the laundry basket, he forgets to either lift the seat or put it back down, the bills are on the verge of being unpaid, or you disagree on the next step in your life together… let the action take over. Let the promise stand strong. You chose to love, so do it, the feeling will return. Look to your parents for an example, look to your grandparents.
“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
Your marriage is growing on the foundation of Christ. The winds will blow, the rains will come down, but you will not fall.
You really are the most beautiful bride in the world. I am so very proud of you.
July 3, 2014
78. Dear Kelly,
We have an awesome God as I know you know. We have all seen Him work in our lives through good times and the not so good times. We are also given what we call hindsight where we are able to see just how the Lord works each of those situations for our good. I would like to share with you how the Lord has worked in my life this past week.
Fourth of July, Independence Day, a day we take to celebrate our nation’s birth in many ways. Our way is to go camping with our family – two of our sons, their wives, and our dear, dear friends we call family. Our choice this year was the Sawtooth Mountains. This 4th of July started out like any other camp day with breakfast, well for us it’s more brunch. Biscuits and gravy were made; we all ate our fill, dishes cleaned up. Around noon, two guys took off on the quads, one read a book, another dozed in a lounge chair. Two ladies were doing their thing and I was in my dear friend’s camper talking with her. I saw the two guys, one being my son, come back on one quad and the thought went through my head the other quad broke down (and it did) at the same time my son jumped off the quad and yelled, “Do you see the cloud?”
My friend and I flew out of her trailer expecting to see the massive thunder cloud and we had to get everything battened down. Never in my wildest dreams did we expect to look up and see a huge smoke cloud! She grabbed her camera and snapped a few shots of the sun and smoke when my son yelled at us that we needed to get out! My dear friend started to run around picking things up and tossing them in to her camper or other campers or our boat. I kept thinking it’s not coming our way, the wind will switch and it will go a different way all the while I was saying we have time. Everyone, by that time, was buzzing around, faster than some of us older people can normally buzz, throwing things into whatever camper or boat we were next too. I was in denial, we still had time, until I realized we couldn’t move our pickup camper because the slide was out and it couldn’t go in with all the stuff in the way.
Then it hit me, it’s not changing direction, it is coming straight to our camp and we HAVE to get out! Some felt the heat, some, including me, heard the roar, my daughter-in-law saw the flames. …. We got out!
Hindsight: This fire didn’t happen the day before when we were off sightseeing. It didn’t happen early that the morning when three of the guys were off fishing. It didn’t happen in the middle of the night. The Lord made sure we were all in the area to work together to get out.
Hindsight: I found out my dear friend was praying the whole time she was picking things up. “Please let us get out. Please keep us safe!” When she told me this, I really felt bad that I didn’t pray. I never thought to pray.
Hindsight: We did have time. The Lord gave us the right amount of time, not one minute more or one minute less to get everything out except a few boxes of wood, a watermelon in the stream and some eye bolts to tie down a tarp.
Hindsight: Not only did our Savior love us so much to take up a cross and die for us sinful people and save us from the pit of hell, He loves us so much to see that we survived a forest fire with all our belongings. He even cared about the disabled quad and kept it safe from the fire.
Hindsight: I may not have prayed for help and safety during our panic, for which I am forgiven, but I have prayed prayers of thanksgiving over the past few days to our loving and gracious Lord for keeping everything in control when we lost our control and panicked.
Praise be to our God for keeping us safe, giving us time and letting us get out.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life; - Psalm 121:7
July 10, 2014
79. God’s word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
God, where’s the path?
The greatest of these is love.
God, can I love without liking? Please? Because I really don’t like this person.
I will make you fishers of men.
God, can I just bait the hook and let somebody else do the fishing?
Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.
God, I’m tired. Will you send somebody to take care of me for a bit?
Wives, submit to your husbands.
God? Really? Submit?
Parents, do not frustrate your children.
But, GooOood! They started it!
Seek and you will find.
God, I forgot what I was looking for.
God, can I have a do over on that one?
Sometimes the anxiety of what I’m supposed to be doing overwhelms me. When I stop and look at myself closely, I see where I come up short. In the coming up short, I want to throw my hands in the air and give up. I’m not good enough. I’m not strong enough. I have a memory issue where God’s forgiveness of me is concerned. I’m a terrible person. I’m not doing enough. I’m doing too much. I want to quit.
This is not what God intended for the lives of His daughters. I think that’s why He had Peter say, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I’m not very good at letting go of things, especially the negative things I say to myself about myself. I lose my way and then panic. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Deep breath. “OK, God, here’s my hurt. Abba, Daddy, will you kiss the boo-boo better?”
You know, every time I ask, He does. He makes it better.
July 17, 2014
80. I got sucked into a Facebook quiz this morning: One Hit Wonders. Kinda proud of myself, I got 20 out of 20 correct. Granted, I had a little help from my husband who has a mind like a steel trap for pop culture trivia. Sadly, I got “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” stuck in my head, again. That song is just too perky. Ugh.
I have a tendency to be leery of perky. Perky songs, perky writing, perky pictures, perky people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really criticizing, it’s just not in my nature to be perky. As a result, I am irrationally suspicious of those who indulge in the behavior.
Have you ever received the response to a problem (in general the phrase is joyously blurted), “But Jesus LOVES you!”? Maybe you’ve given it, I know I’ve done it. And then I desperately wanted to bring those words back into my mouth and make it as though I’d never said them. The problem here is not that the words are not true, it’s the way they are delivered. “But Jesus LOVES you!” is a true statement, however when we are in the throes of anger or hurt, they are salt and lemon juice mixed together and poured on our wound. They are a guilty ointment slathered on our pain, driving it deeper and blinding our minds and hearts to the comfort that was meant.
In our anger over a real wrong, we don’t need the happy statement. We don’t need the emotion to be trivialized, to be told that we are wrong in our feeling because, “But Jesus LOVES you!”. What we need is our warrior God:
“All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
For I am the LORD your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.” Isaiah 41:11-13
In our grief, the last thing we need to hear is how wrong it is to hurt. Although it is very rarely the intention of the issuer of “But Jesus LOVES you!” to make us feel worse, to feel guilty because we are sad, that is the end result. In those moments, we need our tearful Lord:
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” John 11:33-36
Our Father gave us emotions, the ability to feel deeply. It’s not always pretty, or easily soothed. He knew that when he gave them to us. So He gave us comfort. He gave us a fierce promise that He would deal with those who hurt us; He is our protector. He showed us that it’s all right to grieve; He wept for his friend. And He told us this:
“… But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Next time we’re tempted to wipe away the intensity of another’s feelings with “But Jesus LOVES you!”, let’s reconsider how we are going to say it. “…will be as nothing and perish” is so much more comforting and is the “I love you” we sometimes need to hear.
July 24, 2014
81. Long, long ago, on an island far, far away, we discovered Man. My brothers were helping our father with some work on the roof and came across a GI Joe action figure. The one on the roof tossed it down to the one on the ground and the figure broke apart. They scooped up the pieces and “played” with it for a while and then threw it away. Or so they thought.
For years, it seemed, pieces of Man would randomly appear in strange places. We’d find his leg in a cupboard, or his arm behind the toilet, or his torso snoozing next to my baby boy. The boys finally started chucking the bits of Man they’d find over the fence into the empty lot behind the house. After a while we all forgot about Man. Then my ex-husband and I bought that lot and built a house on it. Man returned. When I found his head staring at me from the washroom floor I almost passed out.
The kids and I haven’t lived an easy life. Trauma has been flung at us like snowballs from a feel good movie scene. I’m not going to go into details; details aren’t necessary. I will tell you that when people hear our story they wonder why I haven’t written a book yet. The truth is, we all have that stuff in our lives. The stuff that spawned the saying, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
The question isn’t, “What’s gone terribly wrong in your life?” rather it’s, “Have you dealt, truly dealt with it?” So many times we are tempted to shove it down, push it back, and pretend like it never happened. We want to carry on with our lives as though nothing is wrong. And we do a pretty good job of it. Sometimes we do it so well that even we are surprised when we have seemingly exaggerated responses to certain things.
There is a problem with shoving our troubles away. We don’t deal with them. We don’t learn from them. We do not truly heal from the wrong. We do not learn to trust.
“‘But all who devour you will be devoured;
all your enemies will go into exile.
Those who plunder you will be plundered;
all who make spoil of you I will despoil.
But I will restore you to health
and heal your wounds,’
declares the LORD,
‘because you are called an outcast,
Zion for whom no one cares.’ – Jeremiah 30:16,17
Whatever the trouble in your past, know that God will take care of it. He will deal with those who caused it. Because if we don’t, just like Man, the trauma will pop up in the strangest places, and we will never be truly rid of it.
July 31, 2014
82. I just watched a Stephen Colbert clip. I can’t help it, I find the man amusing. But this wasn’t what I expected. He had four questions from girls that he had to answer. All four of them had to do with boys, the things they do, and one of them had to do with an “overbearing” dad. The advice he gave was good, regardless of the secular medium. You can watch the clip here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/01/stephen-colbert-ask-a-grown-man-video_n_5641575.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000024&ir=Entertainment
Earlier I read a blog that included guidelines for navigating high school written by a young girl who just graduated. This young girl included things like “Listen to your parents, they’re smarter than you” (I paraphrase) in her list. The guidelines can be read here: http://sandrastanley.com/2014/08/allies-rules-for-high-school/
The theme, it seems, for my morning is honor your parents. I think back to my own high school days and wonder what my life would have been like if I had followed that simple advice. I think about how desperately I want my own children to follow that advice. How many tears would not be shed if my 14 year old would hear me when I say, “That boy is no good?”
Unfortunately, we live in a society that teaches our children that their parents are morons and are, frequently, less mature than they are. Don’t believe me? Then you haven’t been paying attention to what’s on television. Pick a Disney or Teen Nick show, look at what’s on broadcast television. These shows all portray parents as either complete idiots or superfluous entities that only matter when income is necessary. I’m not sure if it’s society mimicking “art” or the other way around, but the fact remains that we have become what we see on our flat screen TV’s.
How do we combat this in our lives? The simple answer is to turn off the boob tube, yank our kids out of school, and go live on a commune. Or, we can take a more realistic approach. Take our kids to church. Pray with them at night. Model Godly lives. Share our own mistakes and the consequences from when we were their age. Forgive them.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8,9
On second thought, maybe we should turn our televisions off.
August 7, 2014
83. I’m not going to write about Robin Williams today. Nor am I going to write about my opinions and the Bible’s teachings on the subject. The reason I won’t is best explained here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2014/08/12/what-happens-when-a-suicide-is-highly-publicized-in-the-wrong-way-the-suicide-contagion-effect/
What I want to talk to you about instead is hope. Actually, I’m going to let David talk to you about it.
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A maskil of David.
1 Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
2 hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
3 because of what my enemy is saying,
because of the threats of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering on me
and assail me in their anger.
4 My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
7 I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;[c]
8 I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
9 Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words,
for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
malice and abuse are within it.
11 Destructive forces are at work in the city;
threats and lies never leave its streets.
12 If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.
13 But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.
15 Let death take my enemies by surprise;
let them go down alive to the realm of the dead,
for evil finds lodging among them.
16 As for me, I call to God,
and the LORD saves me.
17 Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
18 He rescues me unharmed
from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.
19 God, who is enthroned from of old,
who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
because they have no fear of God.
20 My companion attacks his friends;
he violates his covenant.
21 His talk is smooth as butter,
yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil,
yet they are drawn swords.
22 Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked
into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
will not live out half their days.
But as for me, I trust in you.
- Psalm 55
My trust is in You, Lord.
August 14, 2014
84. Misbehaved, selfish, snot-nosed, brats. High school kids. Am I right?
On Sunday I had the High School Youth Group pick out a name for themselves. They tossed around a bunch of names, some of them were alliterations with books in the Bible. Some of them were not so brilliant and got tossed immediately. They weren’t happy with the choices they could easily see and started to get frustrated. The kids finally landed on WELS Angels. I’m immature enough to find it hilarious, but also knew that they would be told to find another name if they couldn’t justify it. So they went on a search (they used www.biblegateway.com) for verses to support the name they wanted. Psalm 103:20.
“Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.”
These are not kids who are self-centered. These are not snot-nosed brats. They are taking risks, learning their boundaries, trying out this “thinking for themselves” thing. Sometimes it comes across as rebellion or all around bad behavior. The truth is, if you think about it, they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. They are learning how to be their own people. They are stepping away from mom and dad and learning to own their decisions, their faith, and their lives. We should be proud of them, not call them names, whether out loud or in our heads.
These kids are angels. They are the mighty ones. This is just as true in your church as it is in mine. What are we doing to help them?
August 21, 2014
85. Even Super Girls need Super Girls. Just because we own a cape, doesn’t mean we can swoop in and rescue ourselves. For crying out loud, it doesn’t even mean that we can save those we love. Sometimes my Super Girl cape hangs on its peg and mocks me with its uselessness.
When the kids were little my super hero cape came in quite handy when there were boo boos to kiss or some meanie pants kid at school hurt my kid’s feelings. Now its most common use, for my wee-ish ones, is to hang motionless while I try desperately to make it work, to be the hero my babies need. Other times I use it to listen to friends spill their troubles and, hopefully, help them find a workable solution or encouragement. Frequently it feels like my hero abilities are as worn out as the knees in a ten year old boy’s jeans. Somewhere in all that, I forget that it might not work the way I think should because it’s not for me to wear today.
Those are the days when I need my Super Girls. I need my heroes to listen to me cry, to hold my hand while I watch my children earn the right to their own capes; I need them to encourage me when I’m struggling with how to help another. Sometimes I need my heroes to celebrate the milestones with me.
Recently my daughter went through her confirmation. One of my Super Girls sat beside me and held my hand while we both silently cried with pride. Another logged on to watch the service remotely, my husband texted me from the AV booth, “Christine is here”.
When my Uncle Roger passed, my Super Girls absorbed my grief and soothed my heart. Near or far, the encouragement and love flowed out from them.
I think we sometimes forget, in our rush to throw our capes around our shoulders, that we too need Super Girls. We forget to surround ourselves with those who will hold us up. We forget that there is strength in numbers. We forget that we’re not alone. We forget that maybe, just maybe, today isn’t our turn to wear the cape but rather it is our day receive comfort from who’s turn it is.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
Lean on your Super Girls, God gave them to you for a reason.
August 28, 2014
86. We are beautiful and we are strong. This is the way GOD made us. We are not the weaker sex. We are not objects to be used and tossed aside. That is the way SOCIETY perverted us. We are strong and we are beautiful. We are daughters of the King.
There has been quite a bit in the news about sexual assault, particularly on college campuses. As a result there is, as expected, much discussion on what needs to be done about it. One side says that we need to teach men not to rape, the other says that we need to teach women how to protect themselves. Both sides are right and they are both dead wrong.
Men know not to rape. They know it’s a bad thing that they’re doing. This is why those who commit the crime takes steps to cover up what they are about to do or have already done. Date rape drugs and threats of more violence are used to hide their heinous acts. Obviously they know what they are doing is wrong, why else would they try to hide it? Just like every other sin, there is no new thing under the sun.
So how do we educate men that sexual assault is wrong? We don’t. We teach our boys.
Women know that we need to take steps to protect ourselves. We’ve all seen the emails and Facebook posts telling us what and what not to do when we are alone and appear defenseless. Don’t wear a ponytail since it can be grabbed and used to control us. Don’t shout rape, shout fire instead because people will come running to a fire. Do walk with a sense of purpose and pay attention to your surroundings…. Yet women are still being assaulted.
So how do we protect ourselves from rape? We don’t. We stop sending the message that we are objects.
Before you get angry and stop reading, please do not think for a second that I am saying it is a woman’s fault when she is raped. Under no circumstances would I EVER say that.
Here’s what I am saying: Ladies, we have got to stop allowing ourselves to be objectified. We do it, we allow it. For crying out loud, not only do we let our own objectification slide, we wholeheartedly support it! Don’t believe me? How many moms bought their daughters Katie Perry’s albums? How many of us know a good portion of Fergie’s “Lady Lumps” lyrics? Have you seen the video for “Wrecking Ball”? Take a walk through the mall and see how many ads and posters show women and young girls in sexual poses. Those are just a small handful of ways we’ve not only passively allowed society to turn us into objects but have actively participated in doing so.
Ladies, God did not create us to be playthings for men. He made us strong and beautiful. He made us in His own image. You want to teach your daughters how to defend themselves? You want to teach your sons that rape is wrong? Good. Me too. The only way we’re ever going to make a change for the better is if we also educate ourselves and stop turning ourselves into toys for boys.
Ruth, Esther, Mary, Lidia… These were not weak women. They were not things to be used. Neither are you.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7
September 4, 2014
87. My daughter turned 15 yesterday. I’m running out of time. Have I done enough so far to equip her for the big bad world outside my front door?
My son is starting for his Varsity football team. What happens if he gets hurt?
Another son is trying to start a business. Have I taught him how to succeed or how to pick himself up if he fails?
Another daughter is going back to school and working two jobs. How do I hold her up when the stress is overwhelming?
My youngest son just started 8th grade. Will he be able to make it through the year without an older sibling to take care of him in the vicious Jr. High hallways?
Today is 9/11. The sorrow, anger, and anxiety well up in my as though it was happening all over again.
I have to learn how to do conversions in Chemistry. Is this the class that is going to bring down my GPA and keep me from getting my degree?
My husband is being honored by his employer tonight. What if I manage to embarrass him and ruin his chances at advancement?
Most of these seem to be pretty harmless concerns, but they (and so many others) have me so tightly wound that I’m exhausted. The kind of exhausted that makes me want to nap and let the world burn while I do. I also know that I’m not the only one who feels the weight of worry riding on her shoulders. What makes it worse is that we know that worrying isn’t going to change anything. “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27
Great. Now I’m worried about worrying.
Yet, in the back of my mind, I hear a song repeating itself: He’s got the whole world, in His hands. He’s got the whole world, in His hands. He’s got the whole wide world, in His hands. He’s got the whole world in his hands. Over and over it plays in my mind.
He does. He has the whole world in His hands. Worrying won’t add a single hour to my life (or do any other positive thing). So, as the Psalmist suggests, I will cast my cares on the Lord, He will sustain me.
Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken. – Psalm 55:22
September 11, 2014
88. Look, bad things are going to happen to you. Sometimes it’s a scraped knee, sometimes it’s a child dying of cancer. Bad things all along the spectrum will happen. God didn’t promise you a world full of sunshine and rainbows. In fact, He promised us quite the opposite. In John 16, Jesus talks about this to the disciples. He tells them that they are going to be hunted down and persecuted.
Not a pretty picture for those of us who believe is it? If God isn’t going to make my life wonderful, if I’m going to have to suffer anyway, what’s the point? Right?
Wrong. Because in that same chapter He gives us the promise that it’s all going to be OK. We’re going to be all right because He has overcome the world. Well, what about right now? What about the suffering of today?
My father used to tell me, “Don’t look back, don’t count the cost, don’t stop until it’s done.” Why? Because of what we are. We look back and play the woulda-shoulda-coulda card on ourselves. We think that our lives would be so much better, or this terrible thing wouldn’t be happening. We sink into the mire of, “I suck” and we’re tempted to never come back out.
Guess what? You can’t change it any more than I can. It’s happening. All that’s left is to move forward. To march on.
The good news is that God didn’t just tell us it (whatever your "it" is) is going to be OK. He made it OK. Isaiah 50:7 says to set our faces like flint and we will not be put to shame. Philippians 4 says that we can do all things through Him, He gives us strength and that the peace of God will guard our hearts. And then there’s my personal favorite: Isaiah 41:10-13 where He not only promises to protect us, but to also obliterate that which is causing the pain.
So all of that bad stuff? Yeah, it’s bad. But we’ve got something bigger than the worse thing imaginable. We’ve got a Father who will bring it all to its knees. A Father who is fiercely protective and follows through on the promise that He will make it all better.
Go out. Face whatever it is. Because your Dad CAN beat up its dad.
September 18, 2014
89. To do lists. I hate them. Seriously, with a burning passion, I hate them. I hate them so much that I tend to ignore them. This is evidenced by my super late posting today. Sadly, as much as I hate them, they are necessary. If I don’t have a To-do list, I forget things. Like picking the kid up from Chess Club.
I think I forget things because I’m super busy. But most of us are and we can usually remember stuff like having told a kid they can have the car for the day. What we forget, without the list, is most commonly stuff like washing the socks because we all wore our last clean pair today.
We forget things like people’s names, phone numbers, where we put our car keys, whether we put deodorant on today… That we will forget things is a given. That’s not the question. The question is, why we forget.
With very few exceptions, we are all running from the moment we stop hitting the snooze button and roll out of bed until we lay our exhausted heads on our pillows at night. We are chauffeurs, chefs, go-fers, advisors, counselors, hand holders, boo-boo kissers, and laundresses. Then they go to school and our day of racing about like gerbils in clear plastic balls begins. We are busy. Busier than we have ever been. Our minds, bodies, and souls are weary.
We feel selfish for taking a long bath and shutting down for a moment. We feel like we’re terrible wives or mothers when dinner isn’t on the table at a set time. We feel like failures when we say no to the request to volunteer at yet another school function.
But God told us that rest is ok. We need it. He led by example. So give yourselves a break. Forget all the stuff you need the to-do lists for. Fill the tub up with bubble bath and loll about for a bit. Grab a friend and go have a cup of coffee. Kick your shoes off and watch a movie with the kids. It’s OK. You need it. So do they.
In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves. – Psalm 127:2
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:29
October 2, 2014
90. What I’m about to say causes some to gasp and others to shrug and say, “Me too. Wanna see it?”
I have a tattoo.
Levitical law tells us not get tattoos and, following the letter of the law, we say it’s bad to get ink. Here’s what Leviticus 19:28 actually says, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” My ink is not something I worship.
Now that’s out of the way. Let me tell you about my ink:
It is a memorial. A reminder. It represents my children, me, the beginning of our new life (taking on the world), strength, endurance, and faith. Above it all is God. It serves as a reminder of Who my children and I belong to. It marks that crystallizing moment in my life when I realized that I was worth more because I’m the King’s daughter. It reminds me in moments of weakness that, through God, I am good enough.
I assume that many of you are the same way I am. I tend to feel that I’m not good enough, that I am a failure. The stress of school and going back to work have left my brain fuzzy. I forget things, like needing to go grocery shopping. The end result is that things don’t get done, I feel like a failure as a wife and a mother. I’m not good enough, I’m incapable.
And then I catch a glimpse of my ink in the mirror when I’m getting ready for my day. My kids, me, taking on the world, strength, endurance, faith. And above it all, God. Because of God, I’ve got this, forgetfulness and all. Because God is above it, I have the strength to carry on. Because of God, I am not a failure, I am worthy, and I am good enough. And because he’s a loving God, he gave me a husband who sees me through His eyes.
Some of us wear crosses, for others it’s a bookmark or a key chain. Whatever it is, I encourage all of you to find your memorial. Find the thing that always points you back to God, that reminds you how much your Father loves you, and that He will always hold you up and give you the strength to carry on. Not to worship it, but to remind you that no matter how bad you feel, no matter how badly you think you’ve failed, God LOVES you. He has redeemed us, washed away our failings, and made us whole.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” – John 15:9
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16
October 9, 2014
91. I think I might be losing my mind. Some would argue that I’ve already lost it. Wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, employee, student, and teacher are some of the hats I wear. Every time I switch hats, I think a bit of my mind floats off into the moment of empty space before the new hat comes slamming down on my head. All of these hats aren’t a bad thing, we’ve all got a collection of them, but they can slowly drain us if we’re not careful.
These hats will take a bit of us whenever we mindlessly put one on a trudge through whatever is required by that particular hat. Sometimes we wear a bunch of them at a time and lose track of what we’re doing and who we’re doing it for. Sometimes we wear hats that we don’t need, or even want, to have on our heads. We need to be careful of that.
The story of Mary and Martha comes to mind with the thought of wearing too many hats. Martha lost her mind a bit preparing her home for Jesus. When she whined at Him that Mary wasn’t helping her, I think she expected Him to turn to her sister and say something like, “You know Mary, she’s right. She’s been working her fingers to the bone, the poor thing, while you sit here lolling about and adding to her work. Get off your lazy behind and go be helpful. You selfish twit.” Instead, this is what Martha got: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41,42)
We need to take off a few of our hats on occasion and sit at the feet of Jesus, just listening, just being, just knowing that He doesn’t need our homes to be spotless or dinner to be on the table at just the right time.
October 23, 2014
92. God is good. All the time. He loves us. Even when we don’t understand it. Even when life seems to be showing otherwise. God is good. All the time. He loves us.
Why would a good and loving God allow such terrible things to happen? How can we still say that He is good? Because He is. It is we who are not. We allowed sin to enter the world. No, that’s not true. We invited sin to enter the world. And we are paying the consequences.
Sometimes the consequences for sin reach out and touch others. Sin is like a rock thrown in the pond, the result of tossing the rock is ripples waving out from the original source. Because we’re not isolated and don’t just sin once, it’s like a whole bunch of rocks have been thrown in the pond and the ripples from each stone are bouncing off each other.
God didn’t do that. God didn’t make us sin. We did that. God is good. All the time. He loves us. Next time you’re tempted to blame God for something horrible that’s happened, or you want to be mad at Him for sitting passively by while something unspeakable is going on, remember the rocks in the pond.
I don’t say any of this to cause guilt. At the end of the communion service our pastors send us out with this reminder, “Go in peace, your sins have been forgiven.” We don’t need to carry the guilt with us. And we most certainly don’t get to blame God. He is good. All the time. He loves us.
Regardless of whatever terrible thing is happening in the world, rest easy with this promise:
The LORD is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him – Nahum 1:7
God is good. All the time. He loves you.
October 30, 2014
93. Just where the road I was trying to enter opens up to two lanes there was a tractor-trailer parked blocking the view. In an effort to not get in an accident, I inched out on to the road watching for oncoming traffic. The guy behind me had the same idea, but he was moving slowly faster than I was. Our bumpers became intimately acquainted.
The only reason this happened was the guy was an offensive, not defensive driver. Stating this caused my 18 year old to ask, “What’s the big deal about being a defensive, not offensive, driver?” I explained that offensive drivers rely on others to do what they’re supposed to whereas defensive drivers assume that they’re the only ones out there who know what they’re doing.
He still didn’t get it. So, using what he knows best, I explained that it’s like football. The offense succeeds only when all the players are where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there. The defense is prepared for mayhem.
This got me to thinking about other areas in our lives where the offense versus defense comes in to play. The biggest one is our faith. We go about our lives, behaving according to the moral code we’ve been given by our Father, and are shocked when we are rear ended by those who do not. This is due to our tendency to assume that others are going to do what they are supposed to do and we are not prepared.
We go along as though everybody else on this planet will do what they should. We crash into them, bringing about more casualties than we imagined. We need to live like the defensive driver or the D-line, prepared for mayhem, ready to address it when it ensues. Because it will. Are you prepared?
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” - 2 Timothy 4:3-5
Fasten your seat belts, ladies, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. But we got this.
November 13, 2014
94. In my high school Sunday school class we don’t have a lesson. We discuss current events and how they relate to the Bible and Christianity. I don’t give the kids any answers. The only answer I have is, “What does the Bible say?” I’m trying to teach them to struggle with their faith, to always look back to God for the answers.
The temptation is to think that struggling with faith is bad. Is it though? Gideon tested God. Moses asked for proof that God really was talking to him from the burning bush. Peter didn’t understand when Jesus told him to feed His sheep. All twelve disciples were so afraid they forgot Jesus could calm the storm.
We tend to look at these things as bad. The reality is that these are the times when faith is strengthened. These are the moments when we are most open to hearing what our Father is saying to us instead of relying on our own “wisdom”.
Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the questions. “Why do I believe?” “Is… really wrong?” “What am I supposed to do now?” Ask away. Struggle on. In the struggle we grow. In the struggle we move forward. In the struggle we become warriors.
“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
November 20, 2014
95. So, here we are right back in the busiest, most stressful time of year. Christmas shopping, parties, decorating… By the time Christmas rolls around we are all stressed out and exhausted. But we still have to wrap all those presents, stuff the stockings, and get Christmas dinner in the oven.
We wake up in the morning with the glorious imaginings of grateful children and laughter in the air. There’s barely enough time to grab coffee before the carefully cut and folded wrapping paper flies through the air in the frenzy of getting to stuff. At least one child ends up disappointed because they wanted the Magneto action figure and you got him Deadpool.
Somewhere along the way we forget something very important: Why we are doing this to begin with, what it is we are celebrating.
As we go through this season, joining the mall melee and car jousting for a space at Walmart, let’s try to remember that we are celebrating the birth of the light. Our salvation. Let us not diminish it to tears of frustration over the last remote control helicopter walking off in the hands of somebody else’s kid. It’s much too important for that.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12
That’s why we celebrate.
December 4, 2014
96. “You shouldn’t eat that extra cookie, your body is a temple.”
“Violence is sometimes necessary, even Jesus whipped the people out of the temple and said he didn’t come to bring peace.”
“You shouldn’t say things like that. Be perfect, just like your Heavenly Father.”
And on, and on, and on goes the list of scripture taken out of context and twisted to say what we want it to say. We spout it, we hear it, and sometimes we don’t even realize it’s wrong. It’s like overhearing snippets of conversation in the grocery store and not knowing what the rest of the conversation was. I’m sure the lady who walked by just in time to hear me say, “… and then his arm pit smelled like Pure Poison” was highly amused but also highly confused.
When we pull bits and pieces out of the Bible to suit our needs at the moment, we are creating those grocery store situations. We are leaving people in a wake of confusion. When we don’t correct the utterers of said misused, out of context, verses, we are compounding the misunderstanding. Even more, it is difficult for us to share our faith with credibility when we do that.
Put them back in context, even when it makes us uncomfortable. Otherwise we are only sharing a half truth.
1 Corinthians 6:12-20 is not talking about exercise, cookies, or whether or not to vaccinate your child. These verses are talking about sexual immorality.
In John 2:13-17 we Jesus’ anger was righteous and it was the animals he whipped out of the temple, not the people.
Matthew 10:34 is just a piece of what Jesus is telling the disciples to expect when they go out without Him.
Matthew 5:48 is end of the part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is talking about loving your enemy.
In context, these scriptures that are misused are so much more powerful. And convicting of us. They make me squirm. They’re supposed to. Let’s not water that down.
December 11, 2014
97. The semester ended on December 19th. My sister arrived on the 20th. On the 21st, we drove out of Boise and made our way to Joplin. My family came home and I went on to Tampa and then Orlando to attend a work related trade show. I just got home a day ago. The new semester starts on Monday. I had fun, but man am I exhausted! We’re talking the kind of tired that seeps into your bones like the cold on a foggy midwinter day.
All of us know this kind of tired. The weary dragging of the feet, if we sit for more than a minute we’re going to fall asleep, and don’t even bother asking us a question because the only answer you’re going to get is an unintelligible muttering. We all know this kind of tired.
But what about the exhaustion that oozes from our souls from time to time? You know what I’m talking about. This is the tired that causes us
to ask, “Can I just skip this Sunday and sleep in?” or “Why won’t anybody else take over this (fill in your area of service here) for a little while? They are so selfish sitting there all snug in their pews.” Sometimes the exhaustion is so deep that we simply walk away.
Why do we do that? Because we are human. God knows this. Our Father knows that we are easily tired out. He knows that we need rest. He gave
David these words to comfort us in our weakness:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green
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
I will fear no evil,
for you arewith 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
And then Jesus told us in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
It’s going to be alright. Go ahead and hand the reins over to somebody else for a minute and rest. God told us it’s ok. Just don’t rest so long that you slip into a coma.
January 8, 2015
98. “Change” is a four letter word to many Christians. Ok, so it’s a six letter word, but we treat it like it should be spelled C*&%$@e. Why do we do that? Are we afraid to fail? Are we just that comfortable that we are loathe to change anything? I sometimes wonder if we’ve put on our comfy pajamas and settled in on the sofa with a cup of hot cocoa and put a chick flick on the TV.
The needs of the world are an ever changing thing. Just take a five minute gander at the news. Please don’t get me wrong, the message should never change. The truth of what we offer never, ever changes. Our presentation must. While the world continues to turn and sin is brought out and shown off, we snuggle into our comfy pajamas and dig into our pews.
Change is scary. I get that. For crying out loud, I hated it when my coffee shop told me that they were changing the sizing on their iced drinks. It really upset me and I don’t even drink iced coffee. I know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t like even minor things to change.
But what are we afraid of? If we are not changing or watering down the truth of the Bible, there really is nothing to fear. And Jesus didn’t call us to tradition, He didn’t ask us to sit and wait and watch the world burn. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That’s it. That’s the instruction. “Go.” That’s what He said.
A friend of mine once said, “The church isn’t here for the people inside, it’s here for those who are not.” So what’s the hold up? When the Disciples were out on the boat with high winds, they saw Jesus on the water, Peter asked if it really was Him and Jesus said, “Come.” He didn’t say, “Hey, Peter. If you’d like, when you feel up to it, wanna try this neat-o thing I can do?” No. He said, “Come here.” And then, do you know what Peter did? HE GOT OUT OF THE BOAT!
The world is swirling around us, holding up immorality as a shrine, as something that is good. We are being buffeted inside and outside the church. And we don’t want to change anything. We’re not willing to get out of the boat. Oh, we talk about it. But we stay still, we don’t move, we don’t change. We’ve pulled in on ourselves and have become a church for the church.
Get out of the boat. Bring the people outside in. If that means we’ve gotta change some things, so be it. But, GET OUT OF THE BOAT! We won’t drown. Peter didn’t.
January 15, 2015
99. Recently something was said to me that left me wondering if I’d chosen the correct career. The words that were uttered, supposedly in teasing, cut me deep. When I let it be known how deeply the words cut, I wasn’t given an apology; rather I was told that I need to be medicated. That left me thinking about words and their power. Honestly, I can use my words like a cat-o-nine whip if I’m not careful. Obviously, I’m not the only one. Have you thought about how your words affect others?
“…but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8
The old elementary school chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a lie. Bones heal. Words hurt forever. Even after forgiveness. Even when we learn to not believe the things a person has said. How often do we sit in church and talk about how they’ll know we are Christians by our love and then we walk out the door and use our words to show the opposite?
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1
The good news is we have power over it. We can control our words, those worse than bone-breaking creatures. As much as our words have the power to destroy, they also have the power to build. Just think of how your daughter or niece shines when you tell her she’s beautiful or smart or both. Think of how you feel when you are told what an amazing job you did. Words build us up, give us confidence. And because of them, we shine.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Use your words wisely. Use them to build. Use them to make each other shine. Use them so they will know we are Christians by our love.
January 22, 2015
100. How many people do you that just annoy the living snot out of you? I know quite a few people like that. I also have to deal with them on a regular basis. No doubt you do too. Yesterday I went well out of my way to avoid one such person. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love her, but she can be a time suck. So I went the long way around to avoid getting pulled into a long, uncomfortable conversation I just didn’t have time for.
“Love is patient, love is kind.” And now I feel bad. Not tritely. Like really, really bad. The reason she goes on and on is simply that she doesn’t have many people who listen to her. All she needs from me is to take a few minutes and listen to what she has to say. How hard is it for me to say, “I need to get to … We’ll sit down and talk later”? But I didn’t, I walked out of my way to avoid that.
“Love never fails.” Dang it. I failed. Badly. She’s lonely, awkward, and just needs somebody to hear her. And I went out of my way to not give her what she needs.
“It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking.” Let’s just nail the lid on this coffin. I did not honor her by working to avoid her. I did not hold her need in high regard by holding my breath and hoping she didn’t see me. I thought only of myself when I turned left instead turning right and saying hello.
1 Corinthians is often quoted in a feel good way, the truth is, I am convicted heavily by it. My actions did not reflect the attributes of love. How many times do we do that? Better question: How many times do we do that and not even realize how unloving we are being?
Maybe it’s time to take 1 Corinthians off the Valentine’s Day cards and really look at it. It most definitely is time for me.
January 29, 2015