Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I'm Listening

Sometimes there is just no denying that God is trying to get your attention.

Like, when He repeats Himself.

So, yesterday in my video devotion I spoke about love and 1 Corinthians 13 - because that portion of scripture is what I have been studying the past couple weeks in my Precepts class.
(And, honestly, the blog post was part of an "assignment" in my Precepts homework for this week.)
Anyway, it has been heavily on my heart and mind.
But Precepts is over now, and I have been looking forward to a break because a few weeks ago we received a booklet of meditations for the Advent season. While I love Precepts - it takes a lot of time. And I welcome the opportunity I have now to settle in and focus on these Advent meditations.
Yeah. So yesterday I sat down with the Advent booklet to look at this week's reading and - Are you ready for this? - I discovered that every week for the next eight weeks I am going to be meditating on a different aspect of love from 1 Corinthians 13. Apparently two weeks studying it for Precepts isn't enough. God's got me on the extended track.
At first I was wondering if I should be offended. What, God? Am I not good enough? Somethin' You want to say to me???
But I know HE does everything well, and I am eager to be shaped by His Spirit.
I am eager to become who HE wants me to be.

Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening!

Have you sensed God tugging at your heart regarding anything lately?


Monday, November 28, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Short Straw

Not sure how I did it, but somehow I came up with the short straw with regards to assigning leaders for our Precepts lessons this term.
That is, we're studying the spiritual gifts - and yesterday I got to lead the discussion for speaking in and interpreting tongues. I mean, who wants to take on that challenge? Leading a discussion on a topic which is so confusing and at the center of much disagreement. But, alas, it was my turn in the rotation.
Kidding aside, we had a fruitful discussion. Tho none of us feels we have a grip in the subject. (But since there are so many scholars who've studied hard and still don't know all the answers, I am choosing to feel vindicated rather than stupid. *wink*)
And although we didn't come to a conclusion and wrap up all loose ends on the subject, we did agree on this:
1) Ephesians 4:12-13 tells us that the spiritual gifts are given "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
It's about building the Body. It's about bringing our Christian character to maturity. It's about unity. So, we will not disparage one another over things we don't fully understand.
And 2) What we do know for sure is that Jesus Christ left the glory of heaven to come to earth. HE became a perfect sacrifice and took our place on the cross - where HE conquered death so we could be forgiven. On the third day HE rose from the grave so we could have new life. Now everyone who confesses their sin, believes in Jesus, and turns to Him will be saved. Of this Truth, we have no doubts or questions. And on this Truth we declare our faith and unity.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

~Psalm 133:1
Praying for unity in our nation.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I'll be enjoying my family - not blogging.
LORD willing, I'll see you back here Monday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Food for Thought

Saturday I was talking with my mother-in-law about life, and motherhood, and the struggles inherent in both of them. As we continued on in our conversation I laughed and said, "I feel a blog post coming on!"

And, here it is!

In light of the state of our nation over the past couple weeks, in light of our individual needs to be built up and not torn down, and for the love of civility - I have a question.
What would happen if we all started saying kind things to one another?
When we notice someone doing a good thing, what if we went beyond noticing and actually thanked them for doing it?
When we have feelings of gratitude and admiration toward another person, what if we told them? With our voices? Face-to-face?
What if we didn't wait until someone's funeral to talk about how much they mean to us?
How would this world be different if we made a habit of sharing love, and lifting up?

Something to think about as you prepare to get together with family and friends over the holidays!


Friday, November 18, 2016

On a Balance Beam

What's a mom to do?

See, I have this son who keeps getting disappointed by things outside his control not going the way he wishes they would go. And, as someone with deep faith in God and - oh - 26 years more life experience than him, I realize none of what he's facing is going to cause the world to come to an end.
I know he's going to survive.
Ultimately, I have confidence that he'll grow through the struggle.
So, sometimes I have difficulty feeling true compassion when he's moping around and complaining.
That is, sometimes I want to sit him down and lay it out - Get over it, son. In the grand scheme of things, this really isn't a big deal.

And, yet.

And, yet - I remember a situation which happened in my teenage life that wasn't tended carefully. It was a big, BIG deal to me and I was told, "You'll laugh at this when you're older."
Yeah, well? I haven't started laughing yet.
I think that's because the wound still hurts.
Not the wound from the big, BIG deal, that is. (I got over that a long time ago.) I'm referring to the wound from the "you'll laugh" comment.
That one still kinda hurts.

And so, here I find myself. Looking for the balance between coddling, and cold reality. I want to be sympathetic to my son's frustration - without catering to his sullenness. And I want to encourage him in truth - without bulldozing his feelings.
Yeah. And, his quick-to-get-upset nature makes this task extra tricky.
Lord, You know my son better than I do. Please help me as I walk this balance beam.

Any other moms needing to pray this prayer with me today?


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lessons from the Windy City

So, what do you do with a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Wheaton - when you can't decide on what to do? Well, take the train to Chicago, of course!
Last weekend was "Family Weekend" at Wheaton College, so Brian and I and the boys road-tripped it out to see Elizabeth. We had a pretty full schedule Friday and Sunday, but nothing planned for Saturday. So the decision was made to hop the train into Chicago and visit the Lincoln Park Zoo. (Because our budget-conscious college student knew there was no fee to get into the zoo. *grin*)
We stopped for a picture over the South Pond, with the City in the background.

And now I have no way of denying that I am, in fact, the shortest member of our family. *ahem*
Besides enjoying the apes and ducks, Elizabeth and I had fun dancing to the songs of a local musician. (Couldn't record our antics, because of copyright stuff. Trust me: we were cute.)
Full disclosure, the boys were hoping we would stumble upon some sort of protest in the wake of last week's elections. I was prepared to do a lot of praying if that happened...
Although we walked past the Trump building, the most "action" they got to see was a few people holding signs.
And police.
Lots of police hanging around.
But we made it back to campus with new memories, and without incident. *happy mom*

It was kind of weird for me on that adventure. I felt caught between two worlds. One, in which I was fully enjoying time with my family and feeling all was right with creation. And, the other, in which I was painfully aware of the hurt and fear so many are facing these days.
It saddens my heart to consider the angst and trouble surrounding us right now. To know that there are protests and protesters. To have a glimpse - small as it may be - of the bitterness in some people's hearts. Because I so want for there to be peace.
Peace for all people.
Oh, how I want JESUS for all the people.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

~John 14:27
And I am prepared to do a lot of praying until this happens.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

My Prayer for Our Nation

Father in heaven, please have mercy on this land.
On these people.
On our hearts.
I know from where You sit, You can see the brokenness. You see the hatred being spewed from every direction. You see people acting out of fear and pain and anger. You see us hurting one another, because we are hurting - and we don't know how else to handle it.
Oh, how we need YOU!!!
Father, we are a nation of broken, self-righteous, misguided people. We are divided, and unloving toward each other. Even Your children are failing to display unity and love for one another. And I think it must break Your heart to look at us.
We have allowed this world to ensnare us. We look at each other as "other" rather than as children of the Most High God. We see differences among ourselves and decide that "different" is "bad". We judge based upon what we see, but only You can see the heart.
LORD, we're making a mess of things!
You have told us in You Word how to live. You've told us how to love. You came in the flesh and showed us how to do it! Jesus, You gave Your very life so we could live. And this is how we respond?
Oh, forgive us!
Forgive us, Lord, for going our own way. For trusting in and worshiping man and governments and ideas - rather than You. Forgive us for thinking we know better than You. Forgive us, please, for turning away again and making a mess.
We cannot make it on our own. We need You. We need Your grace and mercy. Though we do not deserve it, Father, we need it!!!
So we cry out to You. We make our confession and our plea. We humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways. Please hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Don't Attempt This Alone


I'm whipped.
But I feel so good!
I went outside a couple hours ago with the intention of bagging some leaves. Two bags, and then call it quits - was my plan. Because, well, it's a job that has to get done, and nobody wants to do it. So for the past few days I've been filling up two bags at a time and feeling satisfied that progress was being made.
Thus, I went outside to do my two-bags-worth. And just when I was nearing the end of my second bag Matthew came home from school and got right into leaf-bagging with me.
Then I'm all, Well, I can't stop now. Not when I've got help! I'll just do another bag or two since Matthew's out here with me. So I plugged along, cramming those bags until not one more leaf would fit.
And as I worked longer than I had planned I realized, it's a lot less "painful" when you've got help. I mean, I was doing the exact same thing I'd been doing before - in fact, more of it - but somehow the burden seemed lighter with Matthew by my side.
The result? There's alotta bags o'leaves sitting in the garage right now. I'm probably going to have some sore muscles tomorrow. And I don't even care, because I feel so accomplished for all the work Matthew and I got done together.

The thing is, as Matthew and I were out there working on the leaves together, I began to think about you. My mom-friends who take on the hard work of raising children every single day.
This motherhood gig isn't something we can do two-bags-per-day!
And I was reminded how important it is for us to be there for one another.
Moms encouraging moms.
Women letting other women in on our struggles and imperfections.
Sisters holding each other up in prayer.
Friends offering a hug, a shoulder, and sometimes a casserole and chocolate pie.
Being a mom is tough stuff. But the journey is more bearable when we walk with someone else. I know, because I've tried it both ways.
And so, my friend, please allow me to exhort you today: Don't attempt this alone.

Who do you have in your life with whom you're sharing your burdens?
Or are you trying to make it through all by yourself???


Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Monday, November 07, 2016

Friday, November 04, 2016

HE is Faithful


It's been a really long day. And we have dance class tonight. And I'm kinda feeling like crashing.
But there's laundry to start.
Nahhhh! I'll get to that tomorrow.
And dinner. Gotta make dinner.
And Josh's Jeep is ready to pick up. Gotta get that done. *ahem*

And so, you see, there is really no time to post a blog entry.
Except this morning I spoke to a group of wonderful mothers, and their leader gave such a nice plug for my blog, and encouraged them all to visit. And now if I don't have something posted for them, well, what good is that? *no pressure*

Ahhhhh, I jest!
Not about the list of things to get done, that is.
Rather, about writing this post.
You see, this morning I was blessed to experience God's faithfulness yet again, and I am so delighted to tell you about it.
As this particular speaking engagement was approaching, I was under the impression that it was my first time visiting this moms' group. Because I didn't recognize the name of the church, and I didn't recognize the driving directions. For that matter, even when I drove up to the church - it didn't look familiar to me.
But when I walked inside I thought, Woah. This really looks like a church I've been in before. And when someone was leading me downstairs to the meeting area, it sure felt like I'd been this way before.
But for the moment I thought, Eh? Maybe they had the same architect?
And I continued on.
Right into the meeting area, when I could not possibly deny - I had spoken for this group before.
No question.
Everything was familiar.
Except my recollection of how long it had been.
Well, at least three years, because I was "new" to the coordinator. *wink*
But I honestly had a moment of panic. Should I completely change my talk today? Nobody is going to want to hear what they've heard before, are they???
Yet, as I sat with a table of moms before the meeting got started, God assured me through their conversation that this was HIS plan all along. As in, some of what they were saying nearly sounded like it came right off my notes. And when the meeting was over, I spoke with several moms who told me the message God brought through me was exactly the one they needed to hear.

Yes, once again - God showed me He is in control. HE knows the last time I was at that church. HE knew so when today's talk was scheduled. HE knew who'd heard it before, who needed to hear it again, and who would hear it for the very first time.
No redundancies in HIS plans.
Just faithful perfection.
And I am so thankful.

How have you seen God's faithfulness in your life this week?


Thursday, November 03, 2016

What Shall I Wear?

Yes, that question went through my mind as I anticipated accompanying my son to the repair shop to pick up his Jeep.

It really did.

Because, you see, I was wearing my "Blessed, Saved, Loved by Jesus" shirt. And our interaction with the folks at the repair shop would likely be, uh, tense. Because, you see, the service has not been what we expect, so I am expecting a discount in what they charge my son for their work.
So much so, that I am ready to stand up for him, and demand it.
Which is why I was questioning my attire.
I thought, If I insist their service has not been worthy of full payment, if I tell them we are not at all satisfied with the way our situation has been handled - are they going to think I'm a *beep* and wonder why I'm wearing this shirt? Am I going to give Jesus a bad name??? And I considered changing my clothes, so as not to defame Him.
But then I reassessed myself. I thought, I can't take off my Jesus shirt just so I can tell these people the truth about their service. I represent Him whether I physically bear His Name, or not! No, I need to speak the truth in love. And began to understand that - by the grace of God and the help of His Spirit - I need to support my son and stand up for what is right, without tearing the shop owners down or dishonoring Jesus.

But, alas, another day has come and gone without a call to say, "Your Jeep is fixed. Come and get it!"
And I got make-up on my shirt, so I'm going to have to wash it before I wear it again. And, surely(!) the Jeep will be ready before that happens. So, I won't be wearing this shirt when we go pick up the Jeep and have our conversation about a (deep) discount.
But none of that matters.
Because God reminded me today that I am His ambassador no matter what shirt I have on.
Wherever I go, I am wearing Jesus. And I want to wear Him well!


Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Parable of the Nursery

Once upon a time, I had a three-year-old son.

He wasn't much interested in sitting through a church service, so every Sunday I took him to the nursery where he could play and be loved-on and have snacks. In previous years, my son had not been one to exhibit separation-anxiety, but when he hit the three-year mark, I dunno.
Maybe he started loving me more?
Maybe he wanted to give "big church" a try?
Perhaps he got tired of having plain Cheerios for a snack.
Whatever it was, that boy suddenly decided he did not want to leave me.
The nursery classrooms have half-doors, so you can have the top open and the bottom closed. (Saves a lot of time chasing down run-away toddlers!) And it came about that when Josh was three years old I would approach the nursery, lift him up to pass him into the room, and he would spread apart his little arms and legs to grip the door frame.
To the point that I was literally shoving him into the loving arms of the nursery volunteer on the other side of the door. She and I would typically exchange knowing looks. He'll be fine in a few minutes.
And, of course, he always was.
Wasted fussing? You tell me!

So, I was telling that story to a friend of mine last week, and she has since shared with me that it is sticking with her. God is using the image of me shoving my son through the doorway of the nursery to speak to her heart.
Besides having a good laugh (She didn't know me when Josh was that small. I can just see her picturing me with my now-bigger-than-me, 18-year-old son in my arms, trying to get him off the ground, let alone up and over a four-foot door.) my friend and I talked about the lesson in trust He's speaking.
Oh, how often are we like that little boy grasping at the door frame? How many times is God trying to place us in a circumstance which He knows will be good, only to find us resisting with all our might? God knows we'll be fine when we give up the fight and surrender to His perfect will for us.
But until we do, I believe He looks upon us with compassion and chastisement and whispers something like, Oh, My child. My sweet, sweet child. Why do you fight Me? When will you start trusting Me? Dear one, I know what is best for you. I know what I'm doing and where I'm leading you. It is for your good. Have I ever let you down before? I am not going to begin failing you now! I am good, all the time. I am trustworthy. I see you and I know what's on the other side of this door. Relax your arms, darling, and trust My heart.

Do you see yourself in this picture? With what is God asking you to trust Him today?


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

HE Answers

LORD, I don't know what I'm doing. Please lead me. Please show me the way to go, and the things to do. I am completely dependent on You!

This has been my prayer as a mother for years.
Because every day is a new adventure. Full of some situations I have not encountered before, and others which still have me baffled.
I don't know what to do, and so I seek HIS help.
Last week, God reminded me once again - HE has heard my prayers for my children.
And HE answers.

I was on my way to feeling better, but not completely "there" yet, had just walked in the door from an amazing worship event (Did anyone else attend the Worship Night in America?), and was ready to go to bed. But Matthew asked me if I would pleeeease help him with an essay he was writing for a class.
I was reluctant, but what could I say?
I mean, he's my son.
I have to help him, right?
So I knelt by his desk and discovered a couple things. 1) This was an assignment he'd been given quite a while ago, and had only just started working on it that evening. 2) By "just started" on it, I mean he had a topic and a very rough outline.
I tried to help my son begin the actual writing of the essay, but before I could put two thoughts together, my brain just said, NO. It was not going to think, or produce, or create, or work, or anything else.
So I shook my head and said, "Sorry, pal. I just can't do it. I have to go to bed."
He had a copy of an essay we'd worked on a month ago, so I suggested he look at that one as a guide. Then I prayed for him, said good-night, and went to bed.
And as I lay falling asleep, I realized - God must have just answered my prayer for guidance. I was too worn out to think clearly, and God used my condition to lead me to the right decision: Not bailing my son out of a trial of his own doing. I prayed, You're right, LORD. I don't have to help him with problems he has created for himself. But You will help him grow through natural consequences. Thank You for rescuing both of us tonight from my tendency to help too much. Thank You for leading me in the way I should go!
Then I drifted off to sleep, Matthew didn't complete his assignment, the world didn't come to an end, and I have grounds for encouraging that boy to get started on his assignments earlier.

All is well.