Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Questions on Friendship...

I have a question? What makes a good friend?

Is it that they make you laugh or that you have a lot in common? Is it that they seem to genuinely care about you? Are they a good listener? Do they show up in your time of need? Do they love you even when you make mistakes or make a fool of yourself?

Let’s switch gears.  What makes a bad friend?

I have experienced some people that were bad friends. Have you had one of these, or maybe too many of these? You know you call them to talk, maybe share something that’s bugging you, and they barely listen to you. If they are really stellar, they might even interrupt you to tell you something about themselves instead. Or maybe they go into the trumping battle. Like oh that’s awful, but this, this, and this happened to me and its way worse! They can get even worse and then share your details with others and completely add new details creating a monster of a lie about what you really said. Maybe they even stab you in the back or blame you for their downfalls in life.

Maybe they only really call you because they need something? Have you had one of these? I am not talking about a good friend that’s in the midst of a tough time. I am talking about the ones who are never available to help you, but they always need something from you. How long do you put up with this? This person who barely listens to anything you say. Who cuts you off to start talking about themselves again and again? Who only calls when they need you to help them out of their next fiasco? How long?

It’s easy to get sick of these people, to start avoiding their calls and texts. It’s easy to convince ourselves that it’s for the best to “de-friend” them on facebook.  Maybe you tried to do the right thing and honestly share politely that this friendship feels very one-sided, or maybe you end up screaming it out after you hit your boiling point and the friendship goes down in a blaze of glory. (I sure hope not.)

 Can I share something with you?

It’s so very heart wrenching to me. It breaks my heart. I don’t want to share this. I am utterly ashamed because….




  I have  had moments and periods of my life where I have been absolutely guilty of being like this to someone who has been nothing, but amazingly good to me.
To be continued...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day and Memories. God has a perfect plan.

Reubin at The National Day of Prayer Service.

                Yesterday was Memorial Day, a day to honor our men and women who have served or are serving in the military. I spent parts of this Holiday weekend messaging here and there with Reubin a member of our family who is currently serving in the Military down at Fort Hood.  As I was attempting to go to sleep last night, I found myself marveling at Gods impeccable timing. You see, we used to live in this tiny, old, and very hodgpodged home. It had this nutty layout that did not make a lot of sense, nor was it very functional, but it did come with 2 acres and 9 foster boys that lived 2 doors down from us. They were always a lot of fun and up to some crazy antics.  Little did we know at the time, but one of these boys, would stay in our hearts and eventually family, in a way only God could plan.

We lived in our little hodgepodge home for the first 6 years of our marriage. It was a home full of lessons to be learned.  (In other words it was old. The pipes froze, the roof leaked, it occasionally flooded, and I was positive that if a tornado came we would be carried off to the land of Oz in it.).)  One of the actual joys of living there was the boys who lived 2 doors down from us. They would constantly pop over for a chat, to play golf, or to climb our huge elm trees. Sometimes they would be up in a tree in our yard waiting for one of us to come out and other times they would knock hurriedly at our door in utter excitement to show us something their birthparent had sent them. They were all eager for some hang time. My hubby had set up a mock golf course in our yard and one of the boys just loved to come over and play it. His name was Reubin. I smile just thinking back on it. He had a great smile that could light up a room. Sometimes we would open our door to find him already started on a game. This was a joy to us. My hubby worked for Chrysler and sometimes was able to bring home "fun" cars like a Dodge Viper. He once asked Reubin if he wanted a ride home in one. Reubin's eyes grew huge and then lit up with excitement! You did not have to ask him twice, even if it was only a ride to his home 2 doors down from us, he loved every second of it. There were good times and sometimes rough times. Once we found Reubin wandering around outside crying without shoes in the middle of winter.  It was after this that my hubby and Reubin’s foster parents had some disagreements about what they were doing with all of those boys. Shortly after they told the boys they couldn't come over anymore. This broke our hearts. It was worrisome, and heart wrenching. So we continued to pray for them. Then we moved not too long after and thus sadly thought we would never get to see them again. It was rough. The boys stayed in our hearts, their faces didn't leave our minds so we continued to pray for them. Even though the door seemed shut we knew it was important to pray.

Then God did something so cool. My sister called one day to tell me about a new family at their church. It was Reubin's foster family. I began praying all the more.  I kept my mouth closed about our past issues though because I didn't want anything to interfere with them going to my sister's church. (I recalled hearing from one of the boys that they had church hopped quite a bit before.) Then I noticed my sister speaking more and more about Reubin. You see my sister and her husband work with the youth of their church also, but Reubin was fast becoming more than just a teen in their youth group, he was a part of their family. Finally one day we were able to see Reubin again too. Wow! It was amazing to see Reubin all grown up. He was no longer this little kid but a young man and now taller than me.

It has been such a blessing to see God’s plan unfold. Reubin is a permanent part of our family. My kids know Reubin well. He is the big brother to my nieces, and nephew. He is the 4th child my sister was waiting for. (Another story for another day) He calls our mom and dad his grandparents. Reubin is one of God's gifts to our family. Right now he is away. He has been serving in the military for the last 2 years. We are thankful he is on U.S. soil again and at a base, but we cannot wait till he gets to come back for a visit. He even helped my son with a recent school project which made my son’s day. I am glad my son can look up to him and his example. He is such a blessing! I love how God's plans come together! Where we thought a door had closed God threw open a more permanent one a little further down the road. God's plans are perfect and His timing is impeccable.

This is a reminder I need from day to day. There are other members of our family in dire trouble and struggling. We help where they allow us to and continue to pray. It’s been rough and scary at times, but I need the reminder that God has a plan and His timing is impeccable. So I will trust Him. He is always faithful.

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your understanding.

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
My sis and Reubin.

Celebrating all of the guys birthdays in the family together.
Good times and laughter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

You can handle this right!?!

God does not give you anything you cannot handle... Really?!

So I was thinking the other day, dangerous territory I know hahaha. ;) Have you ever been in the midst of something really rough in your life? Whether it was an illness or the loss of a job etc. and someone says to you,
 “Don’t worry! God doesn’t give you anything more than you can handle.” 

They even might say it with a smile. Since I have had a few hospital stays and issues in life I remember having either one, of the following reactions. The polite/hopeful reaction where I would say, 

“Yes, you are right. He does not give me anything I cannot handle.” 

And I would smile weakly and nod with them hoping they are right. 

Or there was my not so pleasant, but still outwardly polite reaction which equated to; I silently nodded my head with the person, but in my head I am thinking…

”Really!? REALLY!?Because this REALLY STINKS! I am scared to death and I just cannot do this on my own!! I clearly cannot handle this so stop telling me I can!”

 Now sadly, even though I have experienced this side of the fence. I too have fallen guilty to saying this phrase to others. 

It comes out when I am so at a loss of what to say to them. I am relating to their pain, wanting so badly to offer some hope and then out comes that lovely morsel that even as I say it, the phrase sounds so… hollow.

I want to share something a friend of mine posted.  She has a confounding concoction of illnesses that keep her homebound most of the time. A while back she posted a great point that has never left me. It was in response to that often quoted phrase, 
"God never gives you more than you can handle." 

She had heard it often in response to her illnesses and I am sure each person said it with good intentions. I think, as I shared earlier, often we as people do not know how to respond when someone has continuous struggles with physical ailments. 

People gloss over the area where their doubts form about why God would allow this to happen, and yet He loves us and is all powerful.

I loved her response to that phrase. Her response was this.

 That she does not believe this often quoted phrase to be true. She pointed instead to the fact that God wants us to utterly depend on Him.

Maybe instead of God giving us little trials, He gives us ones that push us beyond ourselves into utter dependence on Him. In His infinite wisdom perhaps He chooses to give us the things "we cannot handle on our own." so that we have to turn to Him and allow Him to handle them.
 Isn't that what is meant by 2 Corinthians 12:9?

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Well I loved it when she pointed it out. It seemed like a silly fog cleared up in my head. These were all things that I knew, but I had not made the dots completely connect so to speak, between what was accurate to God and what had become a Christian catch phrase. 

The best part is, God is completely dependable. He will never fail us. His mercies are new each morning and he promises to never leave us nor forsake us. So when you are experiencing those hard times whether they are your own or someone’s close to you, REMEMBER...

You have the Creator of the universe ready to meet your every need. Your times may be hard. The Bible says it rains on the just and the unjust. Good times and bad will come to us all. You may travel through a painful and rough terrain in your life, but He will give you the strength and peace if you are willing to keep your eyes on Him. 

He will bring great purpose and healing from this experience and everything is an opportunity to grow closer to Him. Each day good or bad is another chance to experience His amazing and everlasting grace, wisdom, peace, love and power. It’s also an amazing opportunity to live it in front of others who are so desperately seeking the hope that is found in Him. 

Last of all, remember that even though some of these painful moments in life may be a surprise to us when they occur, they are not a surprise to God. He already has a plan set forth. If you are following Him then cling to it. Trust in His promises,

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Isaiah 41:10
 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen  you and help) you;
I will uphold you  with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Are you missing it? The American Dream vs The Call of Christ.

In my last blog I spoke about how there is more to this life. If you are a Christian do you realize God did not actually place you on this earth to see how fast you can get all of your jobs done? He did not place you on this earth to run the wheel like a hamster. Chase through the endless maze like a little lab mouse in a great study of science.

If that is where you are at and church, faith, religion is another box to check quickly in your long list of items to accomplish each week then you have completely missed it.

I am sure many verses you hear from the pulpit may sound like empty promises then. They have become quick tag lines in Christian culture that people say, but do you believe them? Do you understand them?  Or do you toss them off as irrelevant to today’s life. After all, our world is so very different from the world that they lived in, in Biblical times.

How do you wrestle with the verses that say, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Did you think he meant chasing success at work, a bigger house, and a nicer car is the measure of life to the full?

Or what about, Matthew 11:30 “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

What does that mean? Do you feel stressed and overloaded? Do you feel it’s an unfair amount of pressure to have to share Christ in a society that views you as close minded and judgmental?”

For instance when Christ gave the command Matthew 28:18-20

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Was he serious? He wants you to “go and make disciples”?  How would that look in your work place? He wasn’t just talking about making disciples of those who happen to wander through the doors of your church. He was talking about everywhere, in all aspects of our lives. 

What does that look like? Does it mean you have to start walking around speaking only in the King James language? 

“Thine work desk shall be neat and orderly as unto the Lord!”

No... definitely not. The disciples and Jesus, did not speak in the Kings James English. They spoke like most people did back then, in their own language.

I think perhaps if this is our perspective then we don’t really know all that much about Jesus. Or what he meant by making disciples.

You see Jesus spoke the truth to people. He spent time with people. He loved people. He lived among the people and when he called out to someone to be a disciple it was a simple invitation to come and follow Jesus.  

The disciples did not have it all together as they took their first steps following with Christ. They lived with him day in and day out. 

They watched him as he got up in the morning. They watched as he ate breakfast with them. They saw the ways he never turned a child away. 

How he reached out and spoke the words that brought life and healing to so many. They saw how he loved the people. How he spoke with authority over the religious groups that had lost sight of God’s plan and become self seeking in their plights. 

His followers saw him deal with all aspects of life.

He was different, and yes sometimes that drew people in and they came in droves. 

Other times when Christ spoke the truth, people left in anger, or disgust.

The disciples watched it all.

Making a disciple is asking someone if they want to come along with you as you try and follow Christ.

Paul said in Philippians 4:9, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put it into practice.”

And the kicker is this. Do you know how we learn best? 

They have studies on how we learn best. Everyone has different styles of learning that help us to retain what we have been taught. You could be a kinetic learner, an auditory learner, and there are more, but there is something they have discovered across the board...

The 2 highest rates for retention that occurs for everyone are through experiencing something and secondly by teaching it.

A person has a retention rate of 80-90% if they do one of these types of learning.

This is what the disciples did. They experienced life with Christ and later, they themselves were sent to teach and live it themselves for others. They invited others to start walking with them as they lived a life following Christ. It’s a call to come and experience life with Christ together.

So what is our standard M.O.? Most likely we just invite someone to church. Put it all on the Pastor and worship teams’ shoulders to convince them in that 1 hour or so of time to follow Christ. 

If that is what you are doing then friend, like I said earlier you have missed it. 

You are missing out on some of the greatest joys, and adventures you could ever have.

Matthew 11:29-30

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 28:18-20

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

John 10:9-10

 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Philippians 4:9

9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Please don't miss this friends...

Monday, May 14, 2012

What do Mother's Day, tummy pains, and world hunger. have in common?

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. We had some grand plans for the day ahead, at least grand to us. My sweet husband had it all worked out. We would go to church, then come home, change clothes, and head to one of our family’s favorite places,  Beale Street to meet with my parents and my sister’s family.

We were going to get messy eating some yummy bbq and then head out to play tennis. We might even run around on my sister’s family farm outside enjoying the glorious weather and each other’s company. 

What a great day?! Right?

 Well the day started out alright. We went to church. It was a great time in Bible study. The fellowship was sweet and the sermon was awesome. 

We happily went home afterwards. Changed our clothes, and at this point, I started to have a twinge of pain in my gut, but no matter it was not too bad. We hopped in the car and were off to the restaurant.

In the short 15 minute drive, my health deteriorated. It felt like I had a bunch of quarters turning over all through my intestinal tract. 

Excuse me for the details, but it felt awful. (At this point I chuckle in writing this. It was not funny at the time, but at the last winter youth retreat, 3 of the teens in our youth group decided to eat pennies. Oh my, oh my….a story for another day.)

Needless to say by the time we reached the restaurant I was working on a contortion act for the circus in the front seat where I was sitting and I couldn’t bring myself to go in. 

Sadly, I stayed in the car hoping it would pass, but it did not. So my dear hubby gathered the kids who had just exited the car and put them back in, and we headed home. 

So, so sad. 

They were upset. He was upset. I was…in pain, and upset. My daughter’s were having fits of drama since a fun day with their cousins, Aunt and Uncle, Grandparents, and family was canceled in such a quick moment.

When we got home I crawled into bed and curled into a ball. I listened as my daughter wandered the halls in misery that this couldn’t possibly occur on Mother’s Day. It was unfair. It was possible that it was the worst day ever. Those were her very words. (So does anyone else have a drama queen trapped  in a six year olds body in their home too?)

And at one time, if my Mother’s Day did not go well, I too would find myself wandering the halls of self pity in my mind. 

Consoling myself in what should have been and maybe even griping about this to my poor husband. The wonderful thing about all of this is that I didn’t feel like that. 

Okay... Yes, I felt awful physically speaking, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually I felt just fine. 

I felt loved. 

I felt no angst or self pity at all. I just felt grateful.  God has done a lot in my heart over the years.  This weekend was no exception. He has been teaching me about what matters most. When I keep my eyes on Him, all of the other stuff fades.

I thought about all the errands my husband and I were able to get done on Saturday. 

I thought about the fact that since we were home he could get some things done before he left for a quick work trip, which I know were eating at him the last few days.

I thought about how blessed I am right now. I have both of my parents still here on this earth to spend time with. I have a home, a car, clothes, a loving family and my children are all healthy!

It’s not always been like this. It won’t always be like this. Even though I was sick and still am, I have been savoring the blessed time we are in right now.

How are you doing friends?

What are you grateful for?

I am working on a few projects right now to raise awareness about hunger, water, and poverty issues that people face in the world. Our teens are once again plunged into raising funds and awareness for World Hunger. We are studying the persecuted church and praying for them.

My goodness we have it so good here. 

We need to wake up. Why get caught in so many trivial things like how updated is the d├ęcor in your home? 

How new is your car?

 How stylish are your clothes?

 It’s a wasteland of things that we chase here in the U.S. and none of it leads to any great improvement for society. 

No lifelong fulfillment and peace comes to us by purchasing or gaining these things. 

They perish.  

So why are we chasing them? And yes I have been there. I have moments when I start to pine over someone else’s kitchen but oh my goodness, I have a kitchen in my home and it’s full of good food, and clean water for my family to consume! 

I have so much to be thankful for. 

Are you there? 

Are you stuck in the drive to buy more, spend more, and gain more?  

Do you ever have a moment when you come to your senses…

Where you “smell the coffee”, so to speak, and think there has got to be something more than this?

Well my friends, there is…

A verse for your thoughts. Matthew 6:19-21

To be continued…

Friday, May 11, 2012

Good to the last drop.

Finger licking good.

Have you ever had this moment?

I was watching my son drink his hot cocoa and trying very hard to not giggle and call attention to him, but he was so intent. We were having a special treat. We had ordered some yummy peppermint hot cocoas at a coffee shop. He was definitely having a good to the last drop moment. And we can add finger licking good to it as well. He had drained every drop from his cup, but upon noticing the reticent creamy foam and peppermint pieces stuck to the edges of the inside of his cup, he proceeded to stick his finger into the cup gliding it around and then licking the delicious remnants from it.  He was a sticky happy mess.

This is not proper behavior at home or in public, but he was so intent. I just smiled and watched him enjoy his moment of cocoa glee. It's good to have those moments as a parent.

Today a few days later I found myself scraping the bottom of a pan with great fervor. I had made a batch of four berry jam and it tasted so good that it was frustrating me that so much was still stuck to the sides of the pan. I didn’t want one bit to go to waste.

And then it hit me.

How would my relationship with the Lord be different if each day I approached Him like the peppermint cocoa or this batch of four berry jam?

I know my Lord is the most wonderful person in my life. His love is sweet. He is my only source and life with Him has been the best I could ever imagine. Before Him my life was full of empty pursuits. Depression, loneliness, and disappointments plagued me. It was empty. No matter what I tried I could never fill it or keep it full.

Now I am full. My life is full. “He completes me.” Yes I just used the cheesy Jerry McGuire movie quote, but it’s true.

Knowing all of this. Why is it that I have times in my life where I do not pursuit Him with the same fervor, of “Good to the last drop.” Why am I not scraping the sides of the jam pan or digging into my Bible to glean every new morsel from the Lord that I can. You see the deeper I dig into His word. The deeper I dig into who He is I find him all the more sweet. More full of depth, more satisfying, and never ending in His supply to my needs. 
Just a quick read of Psalm 103 and we should be in awe of all that He does and is. Take more time and write down every action He takes and character trait listed. He is "Good to the last drop", but the best part is that He never runs out.