Saturday, January 24, 2009

Love her like Jesus

Last night I received a text from a friend telling me that her mother is in the hospital with little time left to live. This friend has been in my small group for the past two years and my heart breaks for what she must be going through. My initial reaction was to text her back and to let her know I was praying for her. And I did. I knew she had family nearby that was with her and that someone from the church would probably be going to pray with her in the hospital (after all...that's what pastors are paid to do, right?) But then I thought about how stretched our church staff is and wondered if anyone would have the time. And it dawned on me...wait a minute...I AM the church. I can't just assume that someone else is going to care for her needs. God has placed me in her life to be His hands and feet. So I offered my assistance in taking care of her children, but that was already covered. I only have one more thing to offer, and it's the thing that scares me. To go to the hospital and be there with her. It makes me uncomfortable for 2 reasons. First, I have never had to watch a loved one die...I can't relate. Secondly, I am very uncomfortable around people when they are emotional. I just don't know what to do or what to say! So as I'm sitting here contemplating this, knowing that I may be going to the hospital tonight, these lyrics from a Casting Crowns song come into my head:

Just love her like Jesus, carry her to Him
His yoke is easy, His burden is light
You don't need the answers to all of life's questions
Just know that He loves her and stay by her side
Love her like Jesus

Thank you Lord for telling me what I needed to know. I will be faithful.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sacred Parenting

"If it was going to be easy to raise kids, it never would have started with something called labor" - Anonymous

I read this book a few years ago...probably the best parenting book I've read so far. Since I've got more parenting experience under my belt, I decided it was time to read it again! What makes this book unique is that instead of being a "how-to" book, it turns the tables and demonstrates how God uses our kids to change us and shape our souls. The message is "that the process of parenting is one of the most spiritually formative journeys a man and a woman can ever undertake...We cannot be the same people we once were; we will be forever changed, eternally altered."

Parenting teaches us:
  • To value character and service over comfort
  • To deal with guilt
  • To listen to God
  • To embrace God's joy
  • To confront cowardice and build courage
  • To handle anger
  • To look beyond glamour and into glory
  • Patience, long-suffering, and perseverance
  • What really matters in life
  • To improve our character
  • To sacrifice
  • To handle control and fear by leading us to trust and hope

Here is a tiny bit of wisdom from Chapter 1: "A God-centered parent acts out of reverence for God. Regardless of how my children treat me, I know that God wills that I move toward my children, to get engaged in their lives, to offer biblical correction and loving support. It doesn't matter how they respond to me as much as it matters what God has called me to do."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Moth

My husband and I don't watch much tv. But one show that we are addicted to is LOST. It is like one long mega-movie. To get ourselves excited for Season 5 which is going to start this week we have been re-watching Season 1. It is just as awesome the second time, even when we know what is going to happen! A scene from the episode The Moth jumped out at me. Charlie is suffering from drug withdrawal and John Locke is trying to help him through it. John takes Charlie over to a tree and shows him a moth just about to emerge from a cocoon. He says "It's in there right now struggling, digging its way through the thick hide of the cocoon. Now, I could help it. Take my knife, gently widen the opening and the moth would be free. But it would be too weak to survive. The struggle is nature's way of strengthening it."

When I have a problem, I want God to reach down and fix it...take away my heartache...answer my prayers...instantly. But the struggles that we all face have a purpose. We don't like to go through them, but they shape us into the people we were created to be and make us stronger. As Paul said in Romans 5:4 "we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."

"The key is to recognize that God doesn't cause the problem, but He allows it in order to strengthen our wings so we can soar to our full potential" (Shook)

Friday, January 16, 2009

How are you?

Have you ever noticed how the phrase "How are you?" has lost its meaning? It has become a common greeting, with the well-known response of course being "good" or something short and polite. Sometimes people pass me at church and say "Hi. How are you?" while they are in mid-stride walking somewhere else. Do they really want to know how I am? No. So I give the acceptable response. My husband tells me that's just the way it is and I have to not let it bother me. Maybe so. But I plan to be more intentional when greeting people. If I ask the question, I want a real answer. And if you ask me how I ready...because I just might tell you the truth!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The search for contentment

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven - Ecclesiastes 3:1

Do you ever feel discontent in your stage of life and just wish the next stage would hurry up and arrive? Or maybe long for the way things used to be? If so, then we have something in common :) I find it so hard to stay focused on the here and now.

I miss my college days. The freedom of only having to be responsible for myself. Friends who would call me up to talk or hang out just because they enjoyed my company. The excitement and passion that comes with falling in love. The fulfillment I found through doing well in school. Lots of good memories. But when I really think about it, at the time all I wanted to do was grow up. I was stressed and uncertain of my future. I wanted to hurry up and get married and start my life!

So here I am, married with children, still wanting to hurry on to the next stage. Looking forward to when the boys are all potty-trained. To when they will all be in school. To when they are old enough that I don't have to hire a baby-sitter (which may be To when we can go on a missions trip as a family. You get the point...

I spend so much time with my head in the past or the future that I fear I'm missing out on the blessings God has for me today. I know that each life stage comes with its own joys and challenges. So how do I slow down and just enjoy where I'm at? This is a lesson I've been learning slowly over the past few years. I've learned that with the right perspective I can be content and find joy even in the monotonous days of household chores and changing diapers. And I know that one day I will look back at this season of my life and miss it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Love Story

Pretty Woman was one of my favorite movies growing up. What woman can resist a good love story, right? But a few years ago God spoke to me through two scenes in this movie (I guess He can use anything!) and it has taken on greater meaning.

The movie begins with Edward (Richard Gere) picking up a hooker named Vivian (Julia Roberts) and eventaully asking her to be his "companion" for the week. He gives her money to buy proper clothes and she learns how to act like a lady. After spending a few days together, they are lying in bed and she tells him how she got into her life of prostitution. Edward says "You could be so much more. I think you are a very bright and very special woman." And she replies "The bad stuff is easier to believe."

I think back to a time in my life when I was making very poor choices. While I've never been a prostitute, I have been ashamed of my sin. And it was at my lowest point that I felt God say to me "You could be so much more" - and I believed Him! That was my turning point, when I began to seek after Him.

And isn't it true that the bad stuff and lies are easier to believe? I don't have many people putting me down, but Satan does quite well on his own. That's why it's so important that I immerse myself in the truth and spend time with others who will encourage me.

Back to the movie...Vivian is alone in the penthouse when Edward's lawyer, Stucky, shows up. He begins to remind her of her past and tells her that she will never be more than a hooker. But as he begins to attack her, Edward shows up to save the day! He grabs Stucky, punches him, and throws him out of the room!

I don't have to fear Satan because my God is a warrior and he will fight for me! In fact, he's already won the battle.

And who can forget the ending when Edward drives up to invite Vivian to leave her old life behind and become his bride. What started out as a fairy-tale love story has come true in my life. I've been sought out, affirmed, and rescued by my Savior, Jesus Christ. And this same love story could be yours if you say "yes" to His invitation.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Shack

I love fiction that is biblically based. I had heard a lot about a book called The Shack the past couple of months and just got it from the library. I had it finished in 2 days! The basic story is about a man who suffers a tremendous loss and then goes to "the shack" for a weekend to meet with God and find healing for his soul. The author presents the story in a very unique way that is very thought provoking. It left me longing for a more intimate relationship with my God. No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, I would recommend this book.

This is one of the many things that really spoke to me. Imagine this is God speaking to you..."I don't wonder what you will do or what choices you will make. I already know. Let's say, for example, I am trying to teach you how not to hide inside of lies...And let's say that I know it will take you 47 situations and events before you will actually hear me - that is, before you will hear clearly enough to agree with me and change. So when you don't hear me the first time, I'm not frustrated or disappointed, I'm thrilled. Only 46 more times to go!" (Young)

I've never looked at it that way before! So cool.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Spiritual Growth

I just got this email devotion today by Rick Warren. It seemed to be a good follow-up to my last blog post...

Millions of Christians have grown older without ever growing up; they act as though spiritual growth is automatic. They may have a plan to save for retirement. They may have a plan for sending their kids to college. But they don’t have a strategy for enriching their souls. They leave the single most important facet of human existence to chance!

But a soul doesn’t automatically grow to maturity any more than a baby automatically grows to physical maturity. You need to have a plan for feeding, exercise, education – and especially potty training – if a child is going to grow up healthy, strong, and mature.

A baby left on its own withers and dies. The same thing is true of your soul. Our world is full of people who have grown older but are still babies when it comes to spiritual maturity.

Spiritual growth is not automatic even for people who have opened their hearts to Christ. The writer of Hebrews sadly noted, “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong” (Hebrews 5:12-14 NLT).

© 2008 Purpose Driven Life. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'm a Big Kid Now!

Isaac gave me a wonderful Christmas present this year. He decided to give up diapers!! This has been a very frustrating journey. Since he is over 3 1/2 years old, we know he has been capable of doing this for a long time. We have tried every way we could think of to motivate (and bribe) him to be a "big boy". But it always came down to two things: 1) His fear of pooping in the potty and 2) a simple lack of internal motivation. So when out of the blue he wants to start wearing underwear and has been accident-free for days, I am thrilled!

Last night I started thinking about this whole process and wondered if sometimes God views us the same way. Does He get frustrated when we refuse to do the tasks necessary for our growth? He knows we are capable. And He has given us clear instructions in His Word. But maybe we are too scared. Or maybe we flat out don't want to exert the effort necessary to mature. It's much easier to sit comfortably where we are.

My frustration with Isaac has been replaced with joy. I am proud of his accomplishment, the past a fading memory. My hope is that when I decide to be obedient to God, that His joy also overshadows the memory of my rebellion.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Need more time?

Did you ever wish there was more time in the day? I know that's a common theme around our house. There are so many things that we want to do, and it seems impossible to keep up with it all. How can we decide what to cut out when everything seems to have value? This quote got me thinking...

"God created me. He also created a day to contain 24 hours. So if I can't get everything done that I need to do within a 24-hour period, then I'm focusing on some things God never intended for me to do...God has given us enough time to get done everything He wants us to do. If we rest in this knowledge and trust Him for what must be accomplished each day, our inner striving fades as we rely more on His plans." (Shook)

I find that I need to daily align my activities with my priorities because they so often get off track. For example, I will get so involved with a task such as doing the dishes, reading, typing an email, etc... that I get irritated with my kids for "interrupting" me. The Holy Spirit has quite a time constantly reminding me that THEY are my priority and need my attention more. And when I choose to listen and be obedient, I find that I'm more content AND I have time to do everything that truly needed to be accomplished.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Why blog?

"Be who you are because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind" - Dr. Suess

I have felt a stirring in my soul lately that God wants me to create a blog. I admit that I have been resistant to it. Will anyone care what I have to say? Do I really want to step out of my comfort zone and share my heart? But then I think of all the lessons God has been teaching me and wonder...what if what I'm learning is not only for my growth, but could be used to benefit others as well?

My hope is that through this blog you will get to know me, and be inspired and encouraged in your own journey. Even if no one reads these words, I am at peace knowing that I am being obedient to the One who matters most.

And I'll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom; Then I'll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed. - Psalm 119:45-46 (Msg)