Friday, May 29, 2015

This Week with Grandma

Don't suppress your feelings just because someone else doesn't like them.

Share what's on your mind, even if it isn't popular.

Look out for the underdog. You might be the only one caring for them.

Give love. Even when you aren't loved back.

These are the things I learned from Grandma this week.
We sat for a long while at the table after lunch and Grandma poured out her heart. She talked about life and family, good memories and hard ones, joys and regrets. Occasionally she would say something like, "Maybe I'm talking too much," but I think we both know that wasn't true.
What a gift it was for me to be able to re-live some of those moments with her, to see into her heart, and to learn from her experiences. And I think it was good for Grandma, too, to be able to visit those memories once again.
I know the reality of our lives is that we're often too busy to spend an hour or more at the table. But what a beautiful thing it is to sit and talk. Better yet, to just sit and listen.
I wonder...
What would happen if we chose to set aside other things so we had time to sit with each other?


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Need Help?

So, one of my children had a, uh, fender bender recently. No one was hurt, and no damage came to the vehicles. But there was a ticket issued.
Which had an associated fine.
Which has been paid.
We thought the situation was over. Until a notice came in the mail stating the correct amount for the fine, including a little line labeled, "balance due." The child has seen the notice - he's the one who opened it - and, yet, it sits on the kitchen counter waiting to be paid.
More than once I have asked the aforementioned child when he is going to take care of the aforementioned fine. Each time the child has made a non-committal response about taking care of it sometime. And each time, I have thought about how easy it would be for me to just do it - but known that to do so would not be doing the child any favors. He needs to take responsibility. I know that!
I had to help him with the initial fine because it required a cashier's check and he didn't know how to obtain one. So, we went to the bank together and got it. The thing is, I would be happy to help him get whatever he needs to have for the balance, but he hasn't asked.
And I'm not just going to do it for him.
If he wants my help, he needs to ask me for it.

Well, the other day I was looking at the notice sitting on the kitchen counter and pondering my child's inactivity - when I realized God was drawing me a picture of how our relationship sometimes plays out.
*I serve a God who can do anything. Any.Thing!
*I serve a God who knows what is best for me, who knows everything I need, and who can make it happen.
*I serve a God who knows how incapable I am to handle most of what life gives me.
*I serve a God who would gladly help me with it all.
I imagine He sits in heaven looking at me, and saying something like, Karen, when are you going to have that talk? Have you decided how you're going to handle that circumstance? That other situation still needs your attention. Have you figured out what you're going to do yet? You haven't forgotten, have you, that I am here and would love to help you with each of these things? I'm right here! All you need to do is ask.
It's silly, really. I can get so overwhelmed by the things I need to do, all the duties vying for my attention, that I just want to quit. Like a certain child of mine, sometimes I become inactive because I don't know what to do. And all that time God is watching me, waiting for me to ask for help.
If I would only ask - He would be there in a heartbeat to show me the way.

If I would only ask.

Is there something with which you could be asking God to help you?


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

More Than Words

When Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, he said to them, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”

Deuteronomy 32:45-47
They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.

They are your life.

Is the Holy Spirit speaking as loudly to you through those words as He is to me?
I read this statement in Deuteronomy a week ago and it has been staying with me every day since.
And because I have been reading this journey Moses took with the Israelites since the end of March, I have become well acquainted with his passion for the Word of God. I have seen him doing (almost) everything "just as the LORD commanded," (There was that one moment when he hit the rock, which ruined his track record... Yet the consequences even made Moses' passion for obedience increase.) and I have found myself rooting him on, willing the Israelites to just trust and obey.
God had been so clear: If His people would follow His commands and obey His word, He would prosper them in the land He was giving them to possess.
It wasn't rocket science.
Obey God, and life would go well.

So as I tagged along with Moses and the Israelites, I was on board with his call that they obey God's word. Fully.
I echoed his charge to them, They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. After all, I had read about and seen the consequences of following (or not!) God's word, and along the way I became convinced of the necessity of knowing it and living it out.
I simply could not agree more with what Moses said.
They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.
But then the Holy Spirit nudged me to ask, "Karen, are you living as if those words are really true?"

Are you???


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

She Still Makes Me Smile

I've been doing quite a bit of observing over the past three weeks. Noticing the ways my girl is growing and maturing and becoming a beautiful woman of God. And I have just six days left to do it. (She's leaving Sunday for her summer job. Camp counselor. She's going to be so great in the LORD's hands!)
Anyway, with all this watching I've been doing, I have also been doing some remembering. That is, I have reminisced about some of the adorable things she did in her younger days. And I knew that I had blogged about one of them. So, as I prepare to say good-bye to my girl again, I am digging in my archives to share this fun story with you. This story which happened just over eight years ago.

Ever since she could talk, Elizabeth has expressed kindness and compassion with her words. In a journal I'm keeping for her, I often note the sweet things she says and does. Like the time I was feeling low and when I went to bed there was a note on my pillow which she'd written. She told me she loved me, God loved me, and she hoped I was feeling better soon. Elizabeth is such a sweetheart!
When it comes to her brothers, however, she can take on a very different attitude. She doesn't like them to get into her stuff. I understand that desire, and support her in it. It has become her standard, though, that they aren't even allowed to set foot in her room uninvited. I understand that desire, too, and agree the boys shouldn't go into her room when she isn't in there. But sometimes she goes a little overboard. Even when she is in her room, Elizabeth will get totally bent out of shape if one of her brothers enters without her invitation. It is because of Elizabeth's rantings and ravings about her brothers' need to stay out of her room that I got a BIG laugh Saturday, and determined I know her future career.

We were getting ready for Elizabeth's birthday party. She had invited several girlfriends over for the afternoon and we were busy putting up decorations, cutting out pictures, blowing up balloons, and sorting out prizes. Elizabeth was sure she had some stuffed animals in her toybox in her bedroom that would add nicely to the decorations, but we were both quite engrossed in our current duties and were a bit pressed for time.
Previously, we had tried to solicit help from the boys, but since they weren't going to be participating in the party they weren't particularly interested in helping with preparations.
So as I was standing there cutting up pieces of paper, I almost lost a finger when I started laughing at the exchange that took place between my kids. Elizabeth put on her sweetest face. The look itself almost said, "You're the luckiest little boy in the world for what I'm about to offer you!" She then said, "Matthew, how would you like to go rummaging through my room?" He immediately stopped what he was doing (I don't remember what it was. He was probably getting ready to pop a balloon or something.) and looked at her. Just as quickly, Joshua popped out from around the corner and said, "I will!" With that, Elizabeth sent the boys up to her room on a hunt for the animals she was sure were hiding there somewhere.

I stood there marveling at Elizabeth's skill to get these boys to do what she wanted them to do - something they had previously made clear they did not want to do. She didn't ask them again to "help get ready for the party". She gave them permission to rummage through her room. By putting a slightly different spin on the activity, Elizabeth got the boys to help. Besides that, she made it fun for them!
Within minutes they had returned with the animals in question.

I'm telling you, that girl ought to be in sales. I didn't ask her how she thought about her approach, and I don't know how long she'd been working on it. But she came up with it, and it worked.

That's my girl! *smile*


Monday, May 25, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

This Week with Grandma

Some days are easier than others. Know what I mean?
This week has seen quite a few of those "others" for Grandma. A nasal infection seems to be the culprit - as it interferes with her sleeping ability, and the antibiotic she's taking to clear it up was giving her stomach problems. The combination of those two things left her feeling kinda rotten.
Not a good time.
Grandma's trouble, coupled with my own issues this week, have made for a cloudy atmosphere around my house. But as we sat down for lunch yesterday she held her hand out toward me (Because that's what she always does.), and I took her hand in mine and we bowed our heads to pray. As I always do, I thought about the things for which I could give thanks. I thanked God for Grandma's physical improvement, for her massage therapist who was going to be coming that afternoon, and for...
And for God's faithfulness.
Because His faithfulness is so good, and so complete, and so, well, faithful.

As I prayed those words I noticed a smile spreading across my face, which seemed to also be making its way to my heart. And I remembered part of the lesson from last week's Sunday school class - that it is impossible for us to have both a thankful and discouraged attitude at the same time. I remembered it, and I was proof of it. Because sitting there thanking God and meditating on His faithfulness had completely changed my heart.
Which made me even more thankful.
And put me on an upward spiral.
That's the beautiful thing about God and His faithfulness. When you start thinking about it - thanking God for it - your circumstances become far less important. You remember the ways in which God has carried you through previous trials, He assures you He's still the same today, and you find yourself confident that He's going to see you through whatever it is that's in your face at the moment.

And just like that, the "other" days become less frightening.
Because God is good.
All the time!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Getting Ready to Fight

Prayer has long been an important part of my life.
But even in the past several months, God is calling me deeper and deeper into it.
He is convincing me more of our need to call on HIM and trust in HIM for all things.
Annnnnd, smack dab in the middle of this passion HE is growing in me, here comes War Room. I had the opportunity to see a pre-release screening of this movie a couple of weeks ago and was immediately excited about it. Since seeing the movie I have been more aware of my own prayers, and more confident that God will show HIS power through them.
There was a man who stood at the end of the movie (in the theater where I saw the screening) and shouted, "Who will join me in this battle?" I think everyone stood in response to his (HIS!) call and I am eager to go forward in this movement.

Here's a look at the heart of War Room. Please take a minute to see what has gotten me so enthused.

There has been a call to pray for War Room this coming Friday, May 22. I am full of expectant hope for what God will do in our country and world through the movement which will be started by this movie. And I am going to be praying Friday. Would love for you to join me. You may find specific details here.
See you on the battlefield!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When Angels Come Knocking

Oh, the beauty of God and His gracious ways.

I was struggling fiercely on Sunday with depressive thoughts.
As in, I can't remember the last time I have felt so rotten. I kept "hearing" everything as an attack on who I am. Fighting off the lies with the Truth was physically exhausting me. In my head I knew this was a battle which has already been won. I knew I have the Holy Spirit on my side, and He will empower me with everything I need to overcome these conflicts.
Still, I was feeling low.
And going lower.
Couldn't wait until it was time to go to bed and start on a new day.
But Monday morning I woke up ready to go back to bed. Soooo tired. Monday never waits for me, though, so I got up and began my day. I was thankful for a fresh start, trusting in God's mercies which are new every morning, and hopeful it would be a better day. Yet, the cloud from Sunday seemed to still be hanging over my head.

An angel came knocking.
I was sitting at the table avoiding the laundry which needed folding catching up on Facebook (Yeah. That's it!) when there was a knock at my door. And in walked a friend. Her sweet spirit lit up the entire room when she entered. (It's a big "open" room. That's how bright her presence was. *smile*) She was just stopping by quick to bring me a couple things she had for me, and before she left she said, "Prayer?" I looked in her kind eyes, and I knew her offer was real. So I told her about Sunday. She put her hands on my shoulders and took me to the Throne where she asked my Father to lift me up.
And I realized He already was. God had been lifting me up from the moment my friend walked through my door. He knew what I needed, and He made it happen.
Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

Isaiah 65:24
Oh, the beauty of God and His gracious ways!


Monday, May 18, 2015

When God Speaks Through Your Own Words

This past weekend I spoke for a women's retreat.
Since I didn't have time to record a video devotion before the retreat, I decided to have a friend capture a moment from one of my sessions to post for you. At this point, we were talking about Exodus 6:6-9, when God was speaking very encouraging words to the Israelites but they were so distressed with their circumstance that they couldn't hear Him. And I shared a story about a time recently when God used an interaction with my dog to remind me that sometimes I act the very same way.
BTW, one of the women in attendance lives in my neighborhood. She is the one to whom I was talking about Mindy.

May you have a wonderful, Jesus-FULL day!


Friday, May 15, 2015

This Week with Grandma

OK. So, I am convinced the worst combination of personality traits for any given task is to have a recovering perfectionist doing a job for a doesn't-realize-she-is-a-perfectionist. (When the recovering perfectionist is fully aware of the other individual's - uh - condition.) Especially when the task in question is one which simply cannot be completed to a perfectionist's standard.

And there you have the background information necessary to understand the exasperation welling up within my when I say:
This week, I faced the greatest challenge I have faced while ironing a pair of pants.
As in, I was ready to cut apart and re-sew the stupid challenging pants.
See, Grandma was going out to spend the day with my dad and my aunt. She was so excited about it. Started thinking about what she would wear DAYS in advance. (That's where I came in.) Grandma wanted to wear a particular pair of pants, which needed to be ironed. And she asked me to do it.
I'll be the first to admit, I don't do much ironing. But I'm not afraid of it. And I was happy to help my grandmother in this way. You need to understand, however, that she is very particular. She always looks sharp when she dresses to go out, and I knew she would be expecting a top-notch job from her "laundress."
I fully intended to give her that high quality result.
So, there I am, lining up the seams in the leg of her pants. I pressed the back side of the leg. Got the crease just where I thought she would like it, being careful to keep the seam on the inside in line with the seam on the outside. But when I started pressing the front side of the leg something went terribly wrong. The crease wouldn't line up both above and below the knee if I kept the seams in line. It was like there was extra fabric in places it shouldn't be, and I'm all, C'mon! Ironing these pants shouldn't be this hard.
I began a personal debate inside my head. One side telling me to relax, let go of my perfectionist tendencies, and iron the crease in a crooked manner. Since that's the way the material seemed to want to go, anyway. The other side retorting, Oh, no. That'll never do. As a memory came to me of Grandma sitting in a chair, examining the crease going down the front of her pant.

And so the battles continued.

The one between myself and me - arguing about letting go of perfectionist ideals while realizing Grandma's standards were that high.
And the one between me, the iron, and the stupid challenging pants.
In the end, I did the best I could.
It wasn't "perfect."
However, Grandma didn't care. Or didn't notice. Or was too polite say anything. Anyway, she had a great time with her children. And that's what really mattered.

But I'm telling you, for the love of mental stability, never send a recovering perfectionist to do a job for someone who has a history of expecting perfection.
It might just send her off the deep end. *wink*


Thursday, May 14, 2015

HE Knows

Several years ago I memorized Psalm 139, and God continues to speak to me through those words. Yesterday HE had me remembering verse 2.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

~Psalm 139:2
*Honest moment*
I love what I'm doing now. Staying home, taking care of Grandma and my family. But sometimes I get tired. Sometimes life's demands get big, and not all things go as planned. Disappointments happen, feelings get bruised, pride tries to rear its ugly head, and I get to top it all off with an achy back.
Yeah. I reached that point yesterday.
Er, Tuesday.
So yesterday I was trying to operate with a smile in place, and a cheery disposition. But it was so fake. I just wasn't experiencing inside what I was trying to portray outside. And I felt like a hypocrite.
That is, until God brought Psalm 139:2 to my mind and I remembered that HE perceives my thoughts from afar. I thought, You know how I'm really feeling, don't You, God. I can't be fake to You, because You know my thoughts.
By Gods' grace, I was alone in that moment and was able to just let down my guard and be real. I was comforted by the knowledge that HE sees me, and HE knows me.
It felt so good to know that I was known. God reminded me that HE knows it all.
And HE still cherishes me.

I'd love to say that after our moment together, I went on with the rest of my day happy as a lark. But I didn't. And that was really OK with me. Because, instead, I went on with the rest of my day confident that HE knows me. HE can handle my stressful days and overwhelmed feelings. And because of who HE is, I'm going to be just fine.

Thank You, God, for knowing and loving even me.

If you've been having days like mine, I pray these words will be an encouragement to you, too.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

HE is Still at Work

Do you ever get the wrong idea about yourself and God?

Like, when He's using you in a particular situation, do you ever get the wrong idea that the work might not continue if you aren't there anymore?

As if HE needs you? (Instead of the other way around...)

I'd like to say I have never been there. But, uh, that would be a lie.
The truth is, I've been there more times than I care to remember.
The truth is, I was there just a few months ago.
And the Truth is, God is still at work.

You may remember stories I have shared here about a very special man from Edgewood whom I referred to as "B." This man stole my heart and I simply loved working with him - watching out for his needs, encouraging him to push his capabilities, and sharing our love for God. Honestly, when I resigned from my role at Edgewood part of me felt like I was abandoning him.
I mean, he was so special to me and we were making such progress. How could I possibly leave him now? What would come of the strides he had made in his recovery? (Do you see how I was thinking too highly of myself? *ahem*)

Well, last Friday I had the delightful opportunity to see B again, at Edgewood. And I'm telling you, my faith in God's faithfulness was bolstered like never before. The office administrator and the life engagement team told me all about the things they were doing with him, and the improvements he's been making. I observed their excitement and listened as they shared stories of what they're doing with B. And I thought, God, You're still at work here. You're continuing to do the good things in B which You started when I was here. It's YOU. Always YOU. I'm thankful for the part I got to play, and I am thankful that You are still at work. You are faithful, God!

My heart is peaceful, knowing God is good. I know HE will not abandon those who love Him, and those He loves. I know HE will continue the good works He has begun. I know HE has a perfect plan, and will bring it to completion. And I know all these things depend on HIM. Not me.
LORD, Your works are wonderful. I know that full well! Thank You for what You're doing in B - and all over the world. When You call me to participate, please help me remember that You are the One working. And my job is simply to trust and obey.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Her Prayers

Elizabeth is home!

Granted, in less than three weeks she'll be leaving for the summer. (She's going to be a camp counselor.) But, for now she's home. And it makes my heart so happy.

Wanna know what makes my heart even happier?

Her prayers!

The other night Brian asked her to say the prayer before dinner. And my heart was completely blessed when I heard the passion in her voice as she prayed for our little Compassion boy. I could sense her love and thankfulness for God, as well as her faith that He can do all things, just by the way she spoke. Now, I am fully aware that God is not concerned with whether our prayers are "eloquent," and He is not impressed by flowery words. But that isn't what I'm talking about regarding Elizabeth. It isn't our job to judge a person's prayer. I mean only to say hearing my daughter pray was evidence to me of how her faith has grown, as well as her relationship with her Father.
You have to understand, this is a girl who used to refuse to pray out loud. She was that timid. But now it seems prayer comes very naturally for her. I think because she's doing it regularly.
And that makes my heart so happy.
Another happy moment came when I was asking about Elizabeth's skin condition. (She has an eczema-type itchy problem.) She said it really hadn't been bothering her much lately. But even when it did flare up, she didn't mind. Because she has begun using the itching as a prayer cue for her friend. And I thought, You've started using prayer cues??? *BIG smile*

If you've been around me for much time, it is likely for you to have a strong sense that I love praying. I love fellowship with God - knowing He is present and listening and active and able to handle what concerns me. I love that He wants me to have this communion with Him! And to see Him cultivating the same thing in my girl? Well, I don't think there is any greater delight for this momma's heart.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Friday, May 08, 2015

This Week with Grandma

She made me feel like a kid again.

A precious, cherished, watched-over little kid.

It was so sweet. *smile*

Tuesday night, Brian and I went to Grand Rapids to see a pre-release screening of the movie, War Room. You will definitely be reading more about that movie here in the coming weeks and months. It was UH-mazing. So good. Probably the best movie I have ever seen. Mark your calendar for August 28, because you're going to want to go see it.
So, anyway, we went to Grand Rapids.
Before we left, I told Grandma I thought we'd be home about 10:00. Movie started at 7, I figured we'd be on our way home by 9. So, I thought I was safe in saying we'd be home "around" 10.
Well, the movie and evaluation time afterwards took a little longer than I'd anticipated. And then we saw friends as we were walking out, so we stopped to talk with them for a bit. Annnnnd, it was more like 10:45 until we got home.
When we pulled into the driveway I could see Grandma's light was still on, so I decided to check in on her before I went to bed. And when I walked into her room, there was a look of uneasiness in her eyes. She said, "Did you have trouble on the way home?" I responded we had not. Then she said, "And you're just getting home now?" (When she asked that question, I realized we were getting home significantly later than I'd estimated for her.) I started to explain the delay when I thought I could see tears welling up in her eyes. So I sat down on her bed and hugged her, saying I was sorry for being late. She said, "It's OK. As long as you're safe. These are tears of joy."
And we just sat there for a minute with our foreheads resting on each other.
I imagined my grandmother looking at the clock for the previous 45 minutes, wondering when I would get home, worrying that something had gone wrong. Now, when I was a teenager and my MOM did something like that, it absolutely annoyed me. But to know my grandmother was thinking about me all that time, just waiting for me to arrive safely home - well, it blessed my heart. Not that I want to make her worry about me, but there was something very sweet about knowing she cares so much.

(Next time I'll call if we're running late. Guess I didn't learn that lesson when I was a teen. *ahem*)


Thursday, May 07, 2015

A Letter to My Younger (Mom) Self

I received an email from a young mother this week, asking me to respond to a few questions. One of them was, "What advice would you give yourself during your children's early years, knowing what you now know?" And as I responded to that question (Besides getting an itch to write another book!) I had a yearning to go back and do it all over again.

If only I could...

But since I can't, I decided to write a letter to my younger (mom) self - in the hopes that someone will read and benefit from it while they're still in the trenches of having really young ones.

Dear Karen,
First of all, congratulations! If you are reading this letter, it must mean you managed to find a few minutes to get away in the quiet. I know these moments are hard to come by, but you did it. Way to go!
Now, let's make the most of this time, because you will surely be called back into action soon.
To begin, let me just remove some stress. You need not believe all those well-intentioned ladies who look at you with patronizing eyes and tell you there will come a time when "you'll miss these days." I know you feel guilty when you hear those remarks.
Let it go.
You aren't going to miss these days.
Oh! You will miss many, many of the moments. But you won't miss the entire day. So don't stress when someone says that to you. Just breathe deeply, ask God to give you strength for the day, and try to memorize the sweet moments.
While you're thinking about letting things go, may I suggest you rid yourself of that unreasonable expectation you have of being a "perfect" mother? It can't be done. Honey, you know nothing in life is perfect. So quit expecting that your new role as "Mommy" should change the course of history.
You aren't perfect. You never will be perfect. And that's OK.
By the way, none of the other moms around you are perfect, either. Truthfully, they're all struggling in one way or another. You don't need to go through your trials alone. Open up. Share with the other moms you know. You'll be amazed how much better you feel when you realize you aren't alone.
Being a mom is tough stuff. I know you know that. And, really, it's OK that you get tired; that you don't know what to do in every situation; that sometimes you want to run away. It's OK, Karen. Please let go of the guilty feelings you have when those moments come. God knows you want to be the best you can be. He knows you fail sometimes. You need not feel guilty about living through tough stuff. Let it go. You'll feel so much better.
And it will be better for your kids, too.
You need to know there will be challenges with your boys when it comes to potty-training. But, do not worry. They'll figure it out. Eventually. Actually, they're going to laugh one day about the fact that you used to give them M&Ms when they were learning to use the potty. And you'll laugh with them.
But forget about trying to get them to do their chores by rewarding them with M&Ms.
It won't work.
Oh, and Matthew will stop wetting the bed eventually, too. You're going to think the day will never come. But it will. Trust me. Just don't expect it to come before age 10. *ahem*
In short, my dear, you will do well to trust God more - and worry less. A lot less. God is faithful. Always has been and always will be. You're going to grow a lot in your relationship with Him as you go through the different phases and challenges of motherhood. It's going to hurt. Sometimes you'll wonder if He's still watching you. Be assured, He is.
Just keep holding onto Him. Keep trusting Him to do what He knows is necessary. And always - let Him fight for you!


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

I Can't Hold My Tongue Any Longer

OK, so I don't typically deal with hot topics or controversial issues here at Surviving Motherhood. That simply is not the purpose of this blog.
HOWEVER, with all the recent talk about gay marriage I have come across several "Jesus hung out with sinners" statements which I feel are complete misrepresentations of who He was and what He did. And I cannot sit by and say nothing. I just can't be passive on this one.

Please read my words as a plea to honor Jesus and understand His actions - not as an attack on the homosexual community.

I have read statements from people who were arguing in defense of gay marriage by pointing out that Jesus was a friend of sinners. Some commenters supposed that Jesus would attend the weddings of the gay folks with whom He was hanging out. And bake the cake. And take the pictures. I didn't read any suggestions that He would also be the "Best Man," but that was the path down which these comments seemed to be going.
I am not about to deny that Jesus was a friend of sinners. I am so thankful He is - because He reached out to me when I was lost in my sin. And I am not sure I can predict whether or not He would attend a gay wedding. What I am sure of, though, is that Jesus would not celebrate sin, or encourage people to carry on in it. And that's what really burdened me about the comments I was reading. People seemed to be equating Jesus' fellowship with sinners with His condoning of the sin.
Jesus hung out with sinners, yes.
But He did not celebrate their sin.
Rather, He called them to turn from it.
Consider, for example, Zacchaeus the tax collector. You can read his story here. Jesus was going to go to his house, and the people who knew Zacchaeus were shocked. Why would Jesus be the guest of a "sinner?" But Jesus wasn't going over to Zach's house to help him plan ways to steal more money from the people. In fact, something about just being in the presence of Jesus caused Zacchaeus to repent of his sin and promise to make things right. Jesus followed up Zach's proclamation by stating that He had come to seek and save the lost.
And save.
He didn't come to seek and further expel the lost.
He came to save them. (Us!)
What about the woman caught in adultery? Jesus came to her rescue. He got her accusers to leave her alone by telling them that the one who was without sin could cast the first stone at her. But once they had all left, Jesus didn't say to her, "OK. As you were!"
He told her to leave her life of sin.
And so it was with the Samaritan woman at the well, and the sinful woman who anointed Jesus. Jesus did not shun these women, as many of the "righteous" people around Him did. He forgave them, and He called them to follow Him. But He did not celebrate their sin and encourage them to keep living it.

Jesus was a friend of sinners.
BUT, Jesus did not promote sin.
Let us not get the two ideas mixed up.


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Indirect Communication 101

Me: I had a crazy dream last night.
*Insert/imagine dream summary here.*
Hubby: Sounds stressful. Did it make you feel like you needed to curl up in all the blankets?
(Emphasis placed on "all.")
Me: It was. *pause* Oh. Did I steal your blankets?
Hubby: Just looked at me. Didn't need to say anything.
Me: Oops. Sorry.

It's how we roll.

For the record: I am really not a fan of indirect communication. Therefore, when I want to complain about his snoring, I come right out and say it. *wink*


Monday, May 04, 2015

Friday, May 01, 2015

This Week with Grandma

I have experienced lots of wonderful things while my grandmother has been living with us.
Reliving good memories (and making new ones!), hearing new stories, seeing faith in action, and being stretched (in good ways) - just to name a few.
This week I was able to see another wonderful thing. That is, the picture of a beautiful friend doing a simple thing, which made a big impact.
My grandmother has a friend - who is young enough to be her daughter. Over the years I have heard her name mentioned many times, and I've known she is special to my grandma. Because she is so kind. This dear woman makes sure that Grandma receives mail (And not just of the electronic type. She sends cards and notes regularly via snail mail, too.) and phone calls. She keeps in touch and helps keep my grandmother's spirits lifted.
Two weeks ago when they were talking, Grandma mentioned to her friend that she'd just finished reading a book and was confused about a couple things. Said she couldn't wait to talk with someone else who has read it, so she could resolve the questions in her mind.
So, Saturday this friend called for Grandma, and guess what? She had just read the book, and was ready to talk with Grandma all about it. They were on the phone for quite some time and as soon as she hung up, Grandma told me all about how sweet this friend of hers is. "She got that book and read it, just so she could talk about it with me!"
I've heard her repeat the story several times this week. She's told my aunt, the aide who comes to give her a shower, her nurse, and anyone else who will listen. That simple act - reading a book so a conversation could be had - meant so much to my grandmother. I think it made her feel loved. Like she mattered - and what she was thinking about mattered. Someone went out of their way to do something for her (simple as it was) and I don't think she'll ever forget it.

Makes me wonder how many opportunities we have to do "simple things" which would make a big impact. And how many times we walk right past them.

Let's keep our eyes open, shall we?