Monthly Archives: April 2015

Despite their fear

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I love vacations. Small or big, there is something so fun about packing your things with the people you love and getting in the car (or plane, or bus, or train, whatevs.). Thirteen rest stops and food breaks later, we are resting and relaxing (or going and doing, depending on the trip).

One of our favorite vacations has been to Orlando, Florida. The first time we visited that city, we Disney’ed it up! Going from park to park with some great friends and our tiny children. Theme park trips are definitely the “going and doing” kind of trips. So fun.

Each day was a new adventure! A day at Magic Kingdom with Mickey and Donald and It’s a Small World! A day at Hollywood Studios with the giant Honey I Shrunk the Kids play-land! A day driving down to Clearwater Beach playing volleyball! A day at Epcot Center – ok, I don’t really remember what we did there, and I remember it wasn’t our favorite (I am pretty sure it was at this point Shawn had reached his limit with “the mouse” as he un-affectionately referred to Mickey and his open hand, taking more money every chance he got), but I can say with certainty it was equally exhausting! A day at Animal Kingdom with a safari ride and grownups taking turns riding Expedition Everest until the park closed!

It was so fun! And so tiring! (I feel like I need a nap just remembering it)

Then add on the 13 hour drive home.

When you see the “Welcome to West Virginia,” there is just something about it that brings comfort. Almost home.

While going away is so fun and wonderful, going back home is a feeling that settles deep down in your soul.

In the book of Ezra, the Jewish people had been away from their home for so many years – a lifetime for some of them. The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken control of their land and sent them packing to Babylon under his control. Fast-forward  a bunch of years, and a new king, Cyrus the Great of Persia, takes over Babylon and does things differently. He allows them to go back to Jerusalem. He wants them to return to their land and to rebuild their temple to their God.

Great news, right? Going home, such a relief.  God let the people know if He wanted them to go there to be part of this rebuilding, and those people set off.

You can almost sense that peaceful feeling settling in their hearts as they saw the “Welcome to Jerusalem” sign. Finally home.

As that feeling settled in their hearts, and they settled in their homes, it was time to rebuild.

The first step was to build a simple altar to sacrifice offerings to God. That sounds pretty easy.

Sometimes the first step is the hardest to make.

They were a little afraid. There were people around them who weren’t on board with the plan to rebuild the temple, and would eventually make it known to them and stand in their way for many years. But for now, they had an altar to build.

Ezra 3:3 says this: Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.”

Despite their fear.

The fear was there and it was legitimate. But they kept going, despite their fear. And they didn’t do a partial job. They built that altar. They built it on a foundation – not something that they could take apart when it wasn’t in use so people might not notice. They sacrificed those offerings right on it to the Lord, just as they knew to do. And not just once, but both morning and evening sacrifices.

Despite their fear.

What a great example!

Do you have something God is asking you to do? Only you and He know what that might be, but don’t neglect it. Do you have conflicting feelings – excited for God to use you, but mixed in with a pinch of terrifying?

Do it anyway.

God doesn’t usually have us stay un-stretched and un-challenged and un-growing for long. He is constantly shaping us to be more like Him, and believe me, you will want this to happen. Despite your fear, do the thing.

Sometimes God asks us to do a big thing – begin a ministry, care for an orphan, move . And sometimes the thing is a seemingly small thing – make the phonecall, babysit the children, introduce yourself. Each one of these bigs and smalls is so important. God doesn’t pass out jobs for our amusement. They serve a purpose. And what an honor to be part of His plan!

Don’t let fear stop you from the big things, and don’t let the feelings of insignificance stop you from doing the small things.

Take a few minutes today and pray about the thing that might be bringing you fear. He will bring you courage.  And if you haven’t heard Him assigning you any job to do lately, pray about that, letting Him know you are willing.

And if you want to share what God has put on your heart, I would love to pray for you as you find your courage!

Go to Him hurt

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crying girl

I was hurt. All the invitations to the party were given out and I wasn’t included.

Maybe I had done something to hurt her. I remember racking my brain, replaying those last few weeks, and came up with nothing.

Maybe it was simply an oversight. I mentioned something in conversation that would have easily segued into party talk, but got nothing.

I kept hoping that I would get that phone call, up to and including on party day, asking where I was, signaling a simple oversight that we could laugh at later. As the night went on, the phone call didn’t come, but the tears did.

Being hurt is hard, but especially hard when it is by someone you consider a close friend. And it was pretty easy for me to avoid my friend for a few days. I didn’t want to pick things right back up where they were. I was still hurt.

In John chapter 11, we can read about a couple of people who felt hurt by none other than Jesus.

Mary and Martha, dear friends of Jesus, sent a message to let him know their brother, his buddy, was sick. When Jesus got the message, He said this:

“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (v. 4)

But instead of rushing to be with Lazarus, or even healing him from where He was (as He had done for others before), He stayed where he was for two more days.

I wonder how Mary and Martha must have felt, pacing back and forth from Lazarus’ side during his final hours to the window and doorway to see if Jesus was almost there. Then afterward, feeling the pain of losing a brother, but also the hurt of someone you love not being there for you.

Of course, Jesus had a plan. Something we are still talking about to this day. But Mary and Martha didn’t know it yet.

And after Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days, Jesus showed up.

Martha ran out to meet Jesus when she heard he was finally coming.

“But Mary stayed at home.” (v. 20)

Mary might have had a superb excuse for staying home. She had other people there trying to comfort her. She might have stayed out of duty to them. Or maybe she didn’t know Martha had left. Or could it be that the hurt just might have overshadowed her natural desire to rush to see Him?

While this is just speculation on my part, I have to wonder if the hurt might have played a role. Mary clearly loved Jesus. She spent her time at His feet as He taught, soaking up His every word (Luke 10:39). She poured perfume on Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair (John 11:2). She loved Him.

The more we love someone, the deeper the hurt is felt.

Jesus had every right to be late; after all, He is the Lord.  He didn’t have to come at all. But instead of putting her in her place, and reminding her of who He is and of the ministry He was out and about doing, He asked for her.

Martha went home to get Mary and told her He was asking for her. Mary hit the ground running to see Him. When she got there, she didn’t keep silent, or hold a grudge, but fell at His feet, and poured out her heart.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  (John 11:32)

Again, Jesus could have given her a speech or a parable or a lesson, but that’s not what He chose for her.  As He watched her weep, His heart broke.

Jesus then went to the place Lazarus was buried and spoke words of life into his dead body – His plan all along.  Jesus was right – Lazarus’ sickness did not end in death. It ended in a beautiful, powerful resurrection.

Do you have some hurt in your heart? Whether it is from another human, or because God isn’t doing things in the time frame or circumstances you prefer, go to Him. Don’t stay home, far away from Him. Healing doesn’t happen there; it happens when we run to Him. Go to Him hurt.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 34:18

“Those that in a day of peace place themselves at Christ’s feet, to receive instructions from him, may with comfort and confidence in a day of trouble cast themselves at his feet with hope to find favour with him.” – Matthew Henry

 

63 Miles

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I am not a work-from-home kind of person. I always thought I would be, until I did it. I had a job as a transcriptionist for nearly a year, when summertime came and I asked about working from home to be with my son. I got the permission, and a pile of tapes to start working on, and every few days, I stopped by the office to pick up a new batch.

The problem was that the pile never got smaller. In fact it multiplied.

I thought typing at home would allow me to spend lots of time with Noah, lots of time with my husband, tons of time keeping the house tidy and organized, home-cooked meals, friendships, library story hours, park time, workouts, church, and typing the transcription tapes in my spare time.(How many hours did I really think I had in a day?)

Needless to say… read the rest of this blog post here…

Kudzu and Quicksand

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Kudzu and Quicksand

Kudzu and Quicksand were a couple of the scariest things I knew of as a child.

I remember car rides as a family, and there were two things Dad would always point out along the way – places he had surveyed and kudzu sightings.
Kudzu is a vine that kind of takes over everything in its path. It kills plants, and can even uproot trees. Even now, as an adult, I cringe when I drive past a hillside that has been overtaken by this creepy monster.

I’m sure it has its good points. I think God made everything with a purpose, but I sure don’t know what it is.  It is frightening.

Quicksand is another scary situation. While I’ve never seen it in real life, and have no idea where it actually exists, I have seen many a TV show where it nearly takes out the character who accidentally steps in it and tries to fight their way out, to no avail.

There is something about a situation… read the rest of this blog here…

Do what they did…

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This along with a container of applesauce and a bottle of water are seriously the only unprocessed things in my refrigerator. I have so much work to d0 . . . my vegetables even look sad for me.

No sugar, no wheat, no corn. Stay away from processed things. Follow the Bible’s food plan. These were a few guidelines given to me by an inspirational friend when I asked for her advice. She had lost 40 pounds and her “brain fog” and I needed her help to lose those things myself.

While it sounds overwhelming, and it will be a slow process to make the switch, I know it worked for her, and I really want it to work for me.
I need to do what she did to get her results.

This smart line of thinking is what King Josiah…Read the rest of this blog here…

A God we can count on

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2 Samuel  24 :10  “David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”

Four months. After a simple basketball injury, tearing his ACL and his meniscus, my in-great-shape husband underwent a seemingly simple surgery that we thought would be followed by a seemingly simple recovery. I thought a couple of weeks would be the maximum recovery time needed, but his physical therapist thought otherwise.

He said there is a real possibility that it could be four months before my husband is able to return to work.

I won’t lie, it was tempting to freak out. While his job is great and a definite blessing from God, it provides nearly no “sick days” and what little they do give disappears at the end of the year. So he had two weeks of vacation leave he could use, and after that, we were on our own.

So I started counting. In my mind, I remembered our savings account (thank you, Dave Ramsey, and my dear husband who doesn’t like to waste money), not to mention the gazillion church friends and family since then who have insisted on helping financially, and with dinner and in other random ways – (we LOVE each of you!). I was able to remain calm, knowing we were going to be okay.

Counting it all up made me feel secure.

David tried something a little similar in 2 Samuel 24. He chose to comfort himself by counting all the military guys he had at his disposal.

He was even advised that this was a bad plan by his wise friend, Joab. Joab knew that regardless of the number of men, God could provide whatever military force they needed.

But David didn’t listen. He had all the men who were fit for fighting tallied up, and between Israel and Judah combined, there were 1.3 million able-bodied men.

Then David’s conscience got to him. He saw what he had done as sin.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I had never thought of counting as being sinful in any circumstance.

David says to God, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” (v.10)

Counting wasn’t sinful, but not trusting God was. By counting his guys, David was ultimately trusting in his own power. He was trying to be self-sufficient, and he knew that God prefers quite the opposite.

God wants us to trust Him. He has shown us over and over again how trustworthy He is, both to others in biblical accounts and to ourselves in the past.

David knew how God had already provided for him, from the very beginning – saving David from a lion and a bear, winning the fight against Goliath, and blessing David’s reign as king. And somehow he lost sight of that for a minute, and became immersed in figuring out his own capabilities.

He forgot to trust in God.

Thankfully as soon as he realized what he had done, he quickly turned to God and repented for not trusting. David was a man after God’s own heart.

My first inclination in most circumstances is to see if it is something I can handle on my own. It’s easy not to worry when I can see I’ve got the resources to take care of it.

But if I don’t, that’s a different story. Worry creeps in and gets comfy, making itself at home.

I have a lot to learn from David.

While I have already counted our own resources and I can’t really un-count them, I have decided not to worry regardless of how things go. If every appliance we own stops working all at once, and if Shawn is told it will be twice the time off, I will know that I can still trust God to take care of us one way or another.No matter what.

God has proven himself trustworthy to David, to me, and to you. Thank you, Lord!

Take a couple of minutes to make a note (mentally, in the comments section, on the back of a receipt, or otherwise) of some of the ways God has already proven himself faithful and trustworthy to you. I’d love to hear about it!

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

What can we do? Times are different

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This was the second time I had heard about some majorly inappropriate songs being played by a DJ at a school dance, and consequently, it was the second trip to the school’s office to explain my frustrations, highlighted song lyrics in tow.

While the man I talked to said he would talk to the DJ before the next dance, and that he understood my concerns, the overall tone of the meeting was kind of, “Well, I don’t like the lyrics either, but what can we do? Times are different now.”

And it made me sad.

Schools are spending so much time encouraging the kids to say no to drugs, to value themselves and each other, and to be responsible with sex. But sell enough candy bars, 8th graders, and we will give you an hour of music that says drugs and drinking are pretty awesome, and sex is all a woman is good for. (By the way, if any of you other middle school parents want to know the songs that had me worked up, I can let ya know). We’re contradicting what we are teaching them.

*In fairness, some of the obscenities were silenced or changed to other words, but the overall tone and message of the songs, and some of the language, is still there.

I get it that the kids were probably more focused on the fun dancing than on the lyrics. And it’s likely that this is not the first time many of the students heard these songs. I get it.

I had a Motley Crue tape (that’s right – tape) that I am ashamed to say I ever owned.

But I can tell you that it wasn’t played by my teachers or parents as a reward for me, and when my parent saw it, they took it away. (Good job, Mom and Dad).

Kids need to know that better is expected of them.

What can we do? Times are different now.

Of course there are things we can do. We can start with songs that are fun, yet not encouraging behavior that we would punish our kids for. As a principal and as teachers, we can choose not to promote anything – movies, music, conversations – at our schools that will make a student think less of themselves or each other.

As a DJ, or anyone else involved with kids, even without kids of our own, we can see the 8th graders as our own nieces and nephews, and ask ourselves if we would want the things said in those songs to be said to those we love.

As parents, we need to look at what we watch and listen to. If we are listening to music that says women are only good for being naked, even if it has a nice beat to it, turn it off. We have to explain to our daughter that she is better than that. Explain to our son that girls are worth more than that.

If we are watching reality TV where women are competing for the “love” of one man basically by making out with him, we have to stop. Our girls need to know that there is more to a relationship than sex. They need to know that they deserve more than fighting-tooth-and-nail for a man’s attention. They deserve better. And our boys need to know the things that matter in a relationship aren’t decided in a 60-minute television show.

If we are reading books that promote sex without marriage and love, we must put it down. It’s not worth it. Our kids need to know that there is more to sex than physical stuff. They need to know love is more than sex.

What we say matters. What we do matters. What we watch matters.

Another thing this man said was how times aren’t like they were when we were growing up. It’s different now.

Good.

I want it to be different.

I remember being in 8th grade and feeling like all boys cared about was physical attraction to girls. I wish so much that I could go back and tell my 8th-grade-self that not all guys were thinking this way. I would tell myself that it is important to expect respect.

It can be different. Our kids can see us respecting each other and them and learn that this is what is expected. Our girls can know that they are loved and that their value isn’t based on what television, the radio, or another human thinks. Our boys can know that a relationship based on more than physical attraction can be a deep, meaningful, beautiful thing.

Love on the girls in your life today, and remind them how precious they are. Love on your boys and remind them of what a gift they can give to a girl when they can give her respect. And make sure the decisions we make ourselves reflect those truths.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6