Random Thoughts

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Writing was pushed to the side last week. I was too busy to put words to paper but I wanted to share some of the things that really spoke to me.

It began last Sunday with my pastor’s sermon. He used the scripture, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6 NASB) I had always applied this scripture to me. I am being perfected. I am becoming more like Christ. But he had a new spin. He explained when God uses us to do a good work, that work doesn’t die. God continues to bring His plan to pass even if we are not a part of it anymore. I was so encouraged and reminded that when God sets out to do anything, He never leaves it undone. And although we may never see the finished product, the Lord is still working. Your efforts are never a waste.

A few days later I read a blog post by Beth Moore. She is, by far, my favorite Bible teacher. She makes me laugh until I cry while striking the deepest part of my heart. She truly is gifted. She wrote a blog about memories. She shared some memories she’d like to forget. And she reminisced about precious things she cherished. Ultimately she came to this conclusion:

“So, today, Lord, I want to say to You that I am thankful. Because I remember. I remember the ditch You pulled me out of. I remember the hopelessness I’ve felt and the fears that I had no future. I remember a time when I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. And I remember that the sun came up the next morning and the next and the next, glistening without fail on a heap of fresh mercies. I want to say that You have been right all along. And that life is such a gift. And it is precious. And passes with such haste. What we can hope is that there would be no waste.”

Every struggle and every joy creates a memory and that is a gift.  I do love her heart!!

Finally, I read a devotion in a Bible my hubby gave me almost 20 years ago. That man still makes me smile when I see him and shake my head in disbelief we’ve been together so long.  Warren Wiersbe writes in Live Like a King,

If life is to be rich and meaningful, then our joys must be the highest possible; and Jesus tells us that the highest joy possible is to see God.”

Know God is always working, even when you think He’s forgotten about you. Your memories are a gift. Use them to see His blessings in and through your life. And joy; always seek joy. We serve a God who is compassionate… and strong …and most of all, loving.

Life is Short

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My heart was heavy and my mind was reminiscing as I drove to the church on Saturday. I was attending a memorial service for a man I had never met. I knew his name. I had seen pictures, but I had never had the privilege of sitting and talking with him. The only thing I knew about him was the woman he had married; an old friend of mine.

My friend was someone I met over twenty years ago. We met at church and realized we had the most important thing in common. We both loved the beach; still do. Way back, when I had no husband and children, we would get up almost every Saturday morning and head over to the coast for a day of relaxation. We’d set our chairs up on the edge of the water and soak in the warm sun. I am convinced there’s a beach in heaven. There is simply no better place on earth.

When I got married, my friend was one of my bridesmaids and she sang. I remember looking over at her singing that day but having to look away because I was about to burst into tears. It’s funny the things you remember. On Saturday, I became teary eyed again as I watched my friend sing at her husband’s memorial service. Her voice brought back so many memories. You see, it had been probably ten years or so since I had seen my friend.

After the service ended I made my way to see her. She gave me a big hug and I burst into tears. I told her I was so sorry. And she responded, “You never got to meet him.” You know, the older I get the shorter life seems. You think you’ll do it tomorrow. You expect everything will remain the same but it never does. There are no guarantees.

So, my question is, if we knew when our last day on this earth would be, what would we do with it? How would we spend our time? Who would we talk to? What would we say to them?

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12 NIV)

Insincere Love

clingingLove must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9 NIV)

I read these words yesterday but this morning they made their way into my heart. I wondered why Paul would write these words…Love must be sincere. I mean, isn’t love always sincere? I don’t think it is. I think there are times we “fake” love. We seem to be sincere but in our hearts we don’t really care or maybe we’ve simply grown cold. Perhaps this was happening to Paul. Or maybe, it’s what he witnessed.

Today I started to think about how or why we become insincere. I think the answer lies in the rest of this verse. Paul says, “Hate what is evil”. Recently, my Mom came for a visit. In the evenings we would watch the news and she was horrified at the crime taking place each day. I reassured her it wasn’t near where we live but I don’t think it brought her any comfort. Night after night the news was filled with shootings, rapes and child abuse, just to name a few. Looking at mug shots of criminals and hearing about the crimes they allegedly committed hardens your heart toward them. How can they carry out such terrible acts? How am I supposed to have a sincere love for them?

Paul finishes this verse with, “cling to what is good”. He knew the key to heartfelt sincerity was clinging to good. Each and every person was created by a Loving God. Regardless of their actions, He loves them. His love is never dependent on behavior.  I think Paul understood the only good in this world comes from God and when we cling to Him, our hearts can be filled with love.

When my kids started school years ago I challenged them to look for God. I told them He was always there. Sometimes, it was obvious and other times He seemed absent. But I reminded them He promised He would never leave them. Over the years my kids have come home with stories of God. They have noticed His hand in unexpected places. These God sightings have offered hope. They gave them something to cling to.

Life is exhausting emotionally and physically. It can cause us to become burned out and insincere. We have to remember to look for God. It is our only hope of remaining authentic in our love for those around us.

Focusing on God

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This morning, I found myself praising God for today. I thanked Him for this moment in time where all is well. I thanked Him because I know everything can change in the blink of an eye. So today, I simply sat and thanked Him for today’s blessings.

My prayers today came about because of a conversation I had with someone. She was throwing out a bunch of what-ifs. She asked what I would do if this or if that happened. She wasn’t being cruel. In her mind, she simply wanted all of the bases covered in case something happened. I think she was surprised by my response. I told her I can’t live my life worrying about the “what-ifs”. I told her it wasn’t biblical to concern myself with things that may never happen. And I told her I would drive myself insane if all I did was think about the possibilities. The fact is they are endless.

Rather than worry about what might happen, I thought, what if for today I was completely satisfied with where I am in life. What if I were satisfied with our home and all of its needed repairs? What if I were content with my car because every single day it starts and takes me where I need to go? What if I had no expectations from my husband except to come home at the end of the day and spend time talking? What if I were absolutely without want for anything more than I already have? This perspective made me cry.

It is too easy to think about what could be or what might happen. I believe this is what Paul was saying when he said, ”We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(2 Cor.10:5 NASB) He’s urging us to take every unholy thought and make it obedient to Christ because he knew our thoughts, if unchecked will wreak havoc in our lives. They can cause us a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress. And quite frankly, if we are looking at what-ifs, we will not have our gaze focused on the One who is in control.

Thank you Lord for today. Thank you for your abundant love. Thank you for your provision. Thank you for holding my future. AMEN!

Trusting God with our Children

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A few years ago

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.(Romans 8:37 ESV)

Last week, I went to open house for my son. Since we talk a lot about life at school, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Some of his teachers greeted me asking who my child was. They offered kind words (whew!) which I always appreciate. Then they did their presentation. I was surprised though. I assumed the teachers my boy favored would be the fun teachers. What I realized is that my boy prefers the teachers who are personable. Those who took the time to shake my hand, look me in the eye and offer encouragement about my boy where the same teachers who have taken the time to get to know my child personally.

God knows each of us personally. He knows our children personally too. It has been a season of changes and I am thankful for this scripture. It has become real to me over the years and now I am reminded of it as I send my children off each day. He loves them. He will protect them. And He will draw each of them closer. Unfortunately, growth often comes when life is hard. Yes, God wants our kids to struggle so they can learn to rely on Him.

My tendency is to make life easy for my kids. I love to surprise them. I enjoy blessing them unexpectedly. But the reality is, those things aren’t going to increase their dependence on God. Real life happens every day and I’m not supposed to hide them from it. Instead, I’m supposed to teach them how to walk through it. They will come up against challenges and I have to let them pursue the solution. If I do it for them, they will never learn on their own. It is a hard road but I KNOW God is with them. It is comforting to see God has surrounded my children with wonderful people. Some of these people are fellow Christians. Others are not. All are welcome in my children’s lives because they all have something to offer and they care.

God never called us to an easy life. He doesn’t call our children to leisure either. Their spiritual growth will come when they fall down. They will learn from their mistakes. It will not ruin them if they have a misstep here and there. We just have to get out of the way and let God work.

Thank you Lord for those who surround us to teach us, guide us and encourage us. They are blessings from you meant to help us as we journey through this life.

Kind Words

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Last week, my girl had to give a speech in class. This alone sends shivers down my spine. My first experience with speech giving sent my seventh grade teacher into hysterical laughter. She doubled over with tears in her eyes cracking up. The thing was, it wasn’t meant to be funny. It wasn’t supposed to entertain and as the students carried on, I decided that would be the last speech I would give. And it was, at least in seventh grade.

Karoline told me she couldn’t bring herself to speak in front of the class so she postponed her speech a couple of days. When she finally stood before her peers, she started to cry. She said she pulled herself together and pushed through but was not at all impressed with her delivery. She was just happy to have it over with. I truly felt her pain.

Our experiences in life along with our beliefs develop our understanding. We become what we’ve experienced whether it is good or bad. We are humiliated when we make bad choices therefore becoming humble. We are offered mercy when we least deserve it making us more compassionate. We are forgiven for the worst offences allowing us to look past sin to the heart of the offender. Every single traumatic experience has caused us to grow and expand our perspective.

Our lives are filled with mountain top experiences and sprinkled with difficult times. It is in those times of struggle we draw closer to God. We rely on His strength. Our trust is solidified. It’s funny, but most people will talk about difficult times over the easy because that is where change has happened. When we push through we see it was not us, but God. And we learn we are dearly loved.

After my daughter gave her speech, she moved on to her math class. Her teacher told her she had heard about the speech. Karoline was surprised when she said she heard it was really good. Many, many people around us are struggling. Sometimes they just need to hear words of affirmation. We may not be at the same point, but we are all on the same road. It’s a wonderful thing to lift someone’s spirits and remind them we understand.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.(1 Thess. 5:11 NASB)

Giving up is Not an Option!

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I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 1:12-14 NASB)

I’ve been painting Jonah’s room over the last few days. He’s had the same design since he was three and last year, around his birthday, I told him I’d redo his room. I redid his sister’s so now it’s his turn. I’ve found myself, looking in at his room as I walk by. I flip on the light and look around at the drastic change. It was reminiscent of the many, many nights I would enter his room after he was asleep making sure he was breathing.

Jonah’s asthma has resulted in a couple of intense hospital stays and too many sleepless nights. I have been told he could die (a mother’s worse nightmare). I’ve heard the heart wrenching cries of my boy as the hospital staff removed mucus from his lung so it would start working again. I’ve sat quietly, reading my Bible only to jump when the alarms from the heart monitors rang. It’s been traumatic at times to say the least. Although his asthma has been under control for years, this morning I was right back there again.

Jonah also has to deal with eczema. Apparently, it’s common in asthmatics. Day after day I remind him to slather up and most days he ignores me. This morning he was complaining his eczema was burning and when I looked at his legs I became upset. It’s infected. He isn’t doing what I tell him. He’s not putting cream on. He’s not doing wet wraps. And now it’s a mess. So, this morning, my boy, who I love so very much, got an earful from his mother. My final comment was, do you realize if you do not take care of this, your infection could get so bad that you could die? I was angry and so was he. He didn’t say a word when I dropped him off at school.

I know my anger came from the fear he would have to suffer again. I’m trying to help him. We have all the tools. We have the education but he just won’t do what he’s supposed to and it upsets me. It hurts my heart because he will have to face the consequences and I will have to watch. I wonder if that feeling is something God possesses when we mess up. He gives us His Word for inspiration. He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit to encourage and warn us. He offers so many signs and yet, we walk right back into the same old sin over and over again. Then He sits with us while we endure the struggle we have perpetuated. Oh how our Father loves us!

Once again, I will take over; making sure Jonah is following his regiment. And after a while, I will hand the responsibility over to him again. I don’t know if he will rise to the occasion, but I will offer him a chance again. I won’t give up on him because God had never given up on me!!