Monday, October 2, 2017

Grocery List Christians

     Well, our pastor (aka my dad!) preached a sermon from Matthew chapter 16 yesterday.  It really resonated with me, and I wanted to share what I took away from it with you...maybe some of you can relate!

    So, anyway, in this chapter, Jesus and His disciples are arriving on the shore after a trip across the Sea of Galilee.  This is right after He had fed the 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fish.  That's the background for where we pick up.  In verse 5, the author tells us that the disciples had forgotten to bring bread with them for the trip.  The next verse says that Jesus gives them a warning to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. 

    Well, the disciples' minds immediately went to the spiritual application, of course.  I mean, they were the Lord's chosen 12... of course they were more spiritually minded than the rest of those who followed Jesus.  Umm, nope.  They began whispering among themselves: "See! I told you He would notice, Peter! He said that because you forgot to pick up those baskets of leftovers!"  "Me?!  Why was it my job?  I thought Matthew or Nathanael would get them...they're the responsible ones!  You know I never remember anything!"  "Well, now Jesus is upset with us, and He's trying to prove a point!  What are we going to do?" 

     Of course, Jesus noticed all the whispering and knew exactly what was going on. (As He always does!)  I like to think maybe He sighed a bit and shook His head.  Once again, the guys had missed the spiritual lesson.  So He patiently explained in the next few minutes that He was not talking about actual bread...why would He be concerned about that?  Didn't they remember that He had just feed thousands of people with a few small loaves and fishes?  Why would He be concerned about forgotten bread?  He was warning them not to get caught up in the trap that the Pharisees had fallen into of adding to God's law to try to prove their own righteousness.

    This struck such a chord with me because I totally do this!  It is so easy to get caught up in being a "grocery list" Christian!  You know... making sure all the "right" things to do are crossed off our list of what we think Jesus wants from us.  Like making sure we sit down and have our "quiet time" so we can say we did it, but not actually having communion with our Lord.  Or praying down the prayer request list without really giving voice to heartfelt, intercessory prayer.  Or making sure we are on time for church with dressed and pressed kids, but being so frazzled and stressed that we get nothing from our time of worship.  The list.

    So, once again, I get to learn from the disciples.  Who were just regular guys like you and me.  Concerned about the grocery list.  And I am so thankful that I have access to the same patient, merciful Heavenly Father Who sighs, maybe shakes His head a bit, and patiently redirects my focus to what is important.  Not the list.  Not the bread.  The truth.  :)



  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The More Things Change...The More He Stays the Same!


     Hey everybody!  Been busy around our place lately!  Lots of new things and changes have taken place since my last post, and I had some words about change I wanted to share with y'all.  So let's jump right in!

    Well, school got off to a good start.  Hubby has stepped into a larger role at his secular job, so more of the school responsibilities are trickling down to me.  We have 19 students this year, and so there are days I can really identify with Mrs. Duggar!  There were some surprise changes as we began the school year, but I could see God's hand in each one, which made them easier to handle.

    Another big change that just happened was that Firstborn just turned 13!  It has only been a couple of days since this big event, so I am still adjusting to the fact that I have a teenager.  Y'all... I remember being a teenager.  I am not exactly sure how I got to have one of my own already...and we are into it with a vengeance!  Those of you with toddlers, please enjoy them.  Diapers, potty training, attitudes, and all.  Because the worst day with toddlers can be fixed with a nap... or a good night's sleep.  But teenagers don't take naps.  They're just there... All. The. Time.  The transition from boy to man is a rough one, but with lots of prayer and patience I am determined to get through this in one piece with my sanity intact! Because I have to remember that inside all that attitude is this:








     I have had some changes in my personal life as well.  A big one is that I have begun a new aspect of ministry recently.  I know...what was I thinking, right?  A husband, four kids, full-time teaching job, house to take care of, and the other extras like Scouts aren't enough?  I needed to go find something else?  Well, that's what I thought for a long time too.  but God just kept bringing it to my attention.  I realized that if I waited for the "perfect" time, it would never come.  So, I just jumped in with a leap of faith that if God wanted me to tackle this new thing, He would work it out for me to do it.

      I had been praying for a while about becoming involved in our local pregnancy resource center.  This is a local ministry overseen by several people who are members of local churches.  They offer counseling to young women who find themselves expecting a baby that they are not sure they want, or don't think they can afford.  They receive some prenatal care, counseling, classes, and a support network of people who want them to find God's way to deal with the unexpected.  So, I finally sent an email to the lady in charge of the volunteers and told her I would like to give some time, if they had a place for me.  Well, to make a long story short, they were overjoyed to have me and I am now going to be teaching the class for first-time moms!  I sat in on the class in August and learned how to teach it.  The classes are one day a week for four weeks, with the fourth week being a baby shower for those who attended.  The Gospel is presented at the baby shower before they are given the gifts.  Y'all, at the baby shower for the class I sat in for training, 6 people made decisions for Christ!!!  It was so exciting to  be a part of  that!  I will be teaching my first set of classes at the end of October.  Pray that I will have an impact for Christ on the lives of the girls who come.  And pray that more girls will realize that their little ones are gifts from God who ought to be loved and cherished.

     Just this week, another change was added.  Hubby was called to work out of town for 2 or 3 weeks.  Thankfully, this is a temporary change for us.  But I know that there are ladies out there who hold things together for months at a time while their husbands are working or serving our country.  I was only asked to do it for two weeks.  At first, my mind went into planning overdrive.  But then I stopped, and talked to the Lord.  I realized that resting in His promises would give me a better ability to process each change that He puts in my path.

     As we face the changes God puts in our lives--big or small--that is what we need to remember.  That He won't give us what we can't handle...and that He wants us to "handle" it by trusting in His grace and mercy and provision.  To put our hand in His and walk with Him through the hills and valleys of life.  And because He's holding our hand, we can look around and enjoy the journey! :)



    

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Because He Holds Me

    The other day, Stitch and Little Sister were having a conversation.  Now, if you are a parent or teacher or anyone else who spends a lot of time around little kids, you know that their conversations can be very interesting!  And also sometimes surprisingly profound. 

     They were talking about family relationships, and who loves whom, and why they love the other people in our family.  So, Little Sister says, "Well, do you know why I love Daddy?"  Stitch replied with, "Because he's Daddy, of course!" (In a tone of superior knowledge...)  And she answers him right back (in her own tone of superiority!), "No!  Because he holds me!" 

    I smiled to myself and later posted a little funny report about it on Facebook, and didn't really think about it much more at that moment.  But it wouldn't leave me.  I kept hearing it in the back of my mind over the next couple of days.  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was such a pure and simple expression of faith. 

    You see, Little Sister has faith that Daddy will always be able to hold her.  She doesn't think that one day she will be too big, or that Daddy might be too old.  She just knows that right now, this day, he can hold her.  She can run to him and he will scoop her up and make her feel safe and loved. 

    This must be the faith that Jesus was talking about when He told the disciples about the faith of a child.  This must be the kind of faith that God the Father wants us to have in His ability to hold us.  But we "grow up."  We think we have to catch ourselves, or make a plan, or maybe just not fall in the first place.  We forget to trust in our Heavenly Father just because He holds us.  Our circumstances overwhelm us, and we forget.

     Unlike earthly fathers, God will always be there for us.  He won't leave us, abandon us, or forget us.  He's never not paying attention to us, or too busy to see what we have going on.  He will hold us.  And we can love Him for so many things, but most especially that.  We can love Him because He holds us!  Or, in His own Words, "We love Him because He first loved us."  :)



    


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

S-T-R-E-T-C-H!

     Well, once again it's been a while since I had a chance to sit down and blog a bit.  The second semester of school has flown by, and tomorrow is the last official day of school!!!  It is time for a break for students and teachers alike!

     As I look back on this school year, I realize that there has been a lot of change in my life.  As some of you may know, I am not a fan of change.  Which is probably why it has been a big part of my life the last few years....hmm...

     My life is so different now than it was only five years ago. I have gone from a house of littles to a house of bigs.  Big clothes, big shoes (that I trip over a lot), big mouths (!!), and big attitudes!  They have certainly jumped into the preteen/teen age group with full force!  I have decided that parenting littles brings a physical tiredness, and parenting bigs brings a mental exhaustion!  But it's good too...because you can begin to see the people they are becoming.  And this:

    


     In those same five years I went from being a SAHM to working full time in the school.  This has been challenging in its own right.  I admit I never had plans to work when I had kids.  I was content to stay home with them and do the mommy thing.  But God had other plans, which meant change for me!  And y'all...He has had to do it!  Because I have been the teacher for the littlest students, which means glitter, glue, paint, scissors, loose teeth, wiggles, and "accidents" of all kinds!  None of these things appeal to my OCD side, let me tell you! But it's good too... because you can see the light bulb moment when the words they are reading suddenly turns into a story.  And this:



     I guess I tricked myself into thinking that because I was approaching "middle age" that my life would be more of the same.  However, God had other plans.  And those plans involved me being stretched to my personal limits so I would be forced to realize that I wasn't doing it in my own strength...it was only Jesus working through me.

    You see, that's why God sends those stretchy moments in our lives.  Especially to those of us who "have the plan."  So we can come face to face with the truth that "not I, but Christ."  I can't juggle kids and work, but Jesus can give me the strength.  I can't fix all the behavior issues that arise, but Jesus can give me wisdom.  I can't heal the scraped knees or hurt hearts of the young ones God has place in my path, but Jesus can give me peace and the power of prayer.

     So, this week, as I face yet another new thing and I think to myself "There's no way I can do this!"  I will remember--"not I, but Christ."  And as you face the stretchy things in your life, I pray you will remember the same thing!  "Not I, but Christ!"  :)


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Going Up!

     So, I've been mulling something over for the past few days.  (English nerd sidebar: I love the word "mulling."  We don't use it much any more. Too bad!  Probably because we don't do it much any more!)  Anyway, I have been thinking over this random thought, and it lead me to some interesting things.  Maybe it will be an encouragement to some of y'all too. 

     It started when I was having my devotional time a couple of days ago.  Last year, I was gifted a copy of "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.  (Disclaimer: I don't know much about this author, so don't take this as a blanket endorsement!)  It has short portions of Scripture and essays written as if Jesus was speaking directly to you.  This week has been focused on the rest Jesus gives us.

     Today's portion really brought out the inner conversations that I had been having with the Holy Spirit lately.  It was based on the Scripture verse Ephesians 2:6:

"And he hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
 
     The essay was about how Jesus wants to raise us up above the circumstances in our lives and make us more like Himself.  Which I know, right?  I mean, if you've been in church for any length of time, you have heard a message on that verse.  Jesus gives us the power in our Christian life if we walk in obedience to Him.  We can be above the circumstances, problems, trials, and temptations through Him.  Of course...so simple, so obvious.

     But then this though came to me:  How often would I rather pull Jesus down to where I am rather than let Him pull me up?  Would I rather wallow in my frustrations than turn them over to Him?  It is so much more satisfying (to my self) to think of Jesus as my BFF who will listen to all my aggravations and agree (!!) with my side of each situation.  Without letting Him insert His opinions about what I should do.  And that's where the problem comes in.

     We have fallen into a trap of relegating Jesus to someone who is there to listen to us (which He does), feel sorry for our hurt feelings (He does care how we feel), and gleefully plot our plans for revenge with us (umm...maybe not so much).  We don't really want to rise above; we want to feel above.

     So, I ask myself: can I let Jesus pull me up, or will I try to pull Him down to sit with me and commiserate on my hurt feelings or aggravations?  Will I let Him take me above the circumstances and begin to view things from His point of view rather than assume He must see everything from mine, because of course I'm right?

     When Peter climbed out of the boat and started to walk to Jesus on the water, it certainly wouldn't have done him much good if he hadn't allowed Jesus to pull him up.  And Jesus didn't commiserate with Peter's fear---He asked him why he doubted and why he had such little faith.  (If I had been Peter, my first thought would have been, "Well, hey, I'm better than those guys...they didn't even try!")  But Peter let Jesus pull him above his circumstances (without patting him on the head and "affirming" him!) and they walked to the boat together.  And the Bible says that the storm didn't stop until they were on the boat.  Jesus didn't calm the storm until after Peter had walked through it by Jesus' side.

     So, the next time I have a circumstance that I want to be above, I want Jesus to pull me up to where He wants me to walk.  I want to walk through the storm by His side, on my way to those "heavenly places."  I want to be raised up!!  :) 





Monday, January 2, 2017

Arrows in Uncharted Territory

     A few years ago, I started this blog because I wanted a place to log family memories, life events, and random musings of my mind.  Just a place where distant family and friends could check in, a random reader could get "how do you do that?" advice, and a record of our family life in a format that could be retrieved simply.  I never wanted to be especially "preachy" or instructional, just real.  And I've never gone viral, but that's okay.  (With fame comes criticism, and I'm not sure I could handle the negative feedback in a mature way, haha!)   As the ebb and flow of life has gone on, I have considered just letting it go by the wayside as one more thing that I didn't have time to keep up with.   But I just couldn't do it.  I like my little blog, and if no one reads it except me, it's still doing its job.

     So with that in mind, here is what I have been musing on for the last few days of this year.  Y'all, just in case no one told you, we are getting older.  And time is going faster than ever, it seems.  I will have a teenager before the end of this year.  (!!)  When I started this blog, he was a toddler.  How is that possible?  I heard a saying earlier this year that has played over in the back of my mind.  It references life with littles -- "Long days, but short years."  And it is so true, at least for me.  As I think back, I remember feeling that I will never be able to go anywhere without packing the entire contents of our nursery in a bag for a two hour excursion.  Or wondering when I will change the last diaper.  (Now I can't remember what day that was...just that it hasn't happened in a long while.)   When did I last feed a little their meal while mine got cold?  I can't remember...

     We still have a toddler, but now we also have a pre-teen, and an adolescent in our house.  And, moms of littles...I would go back to those diaper changing days in a minute.  And you shake your head in disbelief, just like I did when someone said that to me.  Because, you see, these times are hard too.  I was never the mom that was overwhelmed when my littles pulled the wipes out, dumped their toys for the twelfth time, or unfolded all the laundry that I hadn't put away yet.  I never remember being in tears over a toddler.  I didn't cry over firsts: haircuts, or teeth (lost or found), or days of school.  But I cried over a first this year.  The first time my oldest said something that hurt my feelings.  And y'all...that came out of  nowhere.

    He didn't really mean to.  He just said something off hand that caught me off guard.  And when Daddy brought it to his attention, he was sorry and hasn't done it since.  But I was taken aback by this new "first."  I realized that we were moving into uncharted territory in our family.  Once again, First-Born is paving the way for his parents into unfamiliar surroundings.    The life lessons are bigger.  No more "Eat that, don't eat this," "play with this, not that," or "stay in bed."  Uncharted territory, indeed.

     This year, as I look at the future I realize that  our primary responsibility will be teaching rather than training.  And letting consequences for decisions fall on the maker of those decisions.  Because we have always said we're not raising kids, we're raising adults.  And it's getting to be more and more true as "adult" approaches. Grown-up decisions, choices, and results are not far away, and the Godly character we have spent these last years instilling will be put to many challenges.  I admit, it is a little daunting to realize that we only have about 5 years or less before our first kid is an adult. 

    But, it is exciting too.  After all, the Bible refers to children as arrows in the hand of a mighty man, right?  Well, arrows weren't made to hold on to or stick in the ground around your feet.  They are made to fly straight and true into the desired target.  While it's true that we as parents may not know what that target looks like, it is our responsibility to get those arrows ready. 

     So, we will work, pray, teach, pray, love, and pray for these arrows God has given us.  That they will be true, fly straight, aim high, and hit the center of God's will for their lives.  If you think of us, say a little prayer for us, and I'll do the same for you.  Happy and blessed New Year! :)