HOLD ON, The best comes AFTER
Look at those happy faces! They had been talking about going on this ride all day and this was the moment. They had just made it to the front of the line, found their seats and got all strapped in. When I took this picture, they were waiting with nearly unbearable anticipation to feel the first movement of the ride pulling them to the top of the tower. They were GIDDY!
This picture was taken about 90 seconds later, on the way down. What happened to the smiles?? They look miserable, terrified, scared out of their minds. THIS is what they had been so excited about??? Hard to believe from their expressions now.
Okay, here comes the object lesson: How many times do we get excited about something that is coming in life only to end up miserable, terrified and filled with anxiety once we really get into it?
That new job?
That fixer-upper first house?
As Jason and I approach our 14th wedding anniversary, I can remember more than one occasion where fear crept in during our years together. "Can we really make this work?" "Will he ever change?" "Will I ever change?" "How are we going to get through THIS?"
So many times when things get scary, we humans want to bail. We want to say, "Stop the ride! I want off!" We wonder why anyone would continue given the conditions we are experiencing.
Well, this is why:
They made it! They did it! They survived! They can say, "I rode on the X Scream!"
The most amazing, thrilling, fulfilling moments in life, in work, in projects, in our faith come after the scariest moments. They come after the hardest moments. They come after the most trying moments. It is worth holding on. It is worth trusting. It is worth overcoming your emotions and worst fears to experience what comes AFTER.
Hebrews 10:36 "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." NIV
Today I took Timmy and three of his buddies (ages 9-11) to an amusement park and water park for the day to celebrate Timmy's 11th birthday. We met up with another family (including 2 more of Tim's friends) when we arrived.
Someone at some point commented that I am brave. Someone may have been right, however, I am also BLESSED. I laughed so hard today... I had to have burned some serious calories, right? Preteen boys are nothing if not funny. I got a kick out of listening to all of their silly conversations and joining in, when it was cool to do so, and I vowed to remember as many funny moments as I could and write them down when I got home... here's what I can recall:
- Cameron (after going on a ride called the Crazy Mouse): "Miss Carla, My stomach feels turned over." I hear ya buddy!
- When it was time to sing Happy Birthday to Tim at lunch, somehow, they broke out into the hallelujah chorus instead. We put two candles in a watermelon and he blew them out. Nontraditional is kind of our thing. (pictures below)
At one point the boys were pretending to predict what each others' futures would be like. Here are some of their predictions:
1. Timmy will marry a very short woman and move to Europe where he will tend to Alpacas for a living. He will have seven children and all will be well until one of the Alpacas decides he doesn't care for him and he will kick him so hard he'll be sent into orbit. (What a way to become an astronaut!)
2. Daniel will join the circus and be a clown. He will not make people happy. He will make them anxious and sad. (I can't remember the rest of this one, but for whatever reason it made us laugh like the dickens, even Daniel.)
3. Cameron will be a lion tamer with a whip until the lion one day gets hungry and eats him. (So sad...Imagine the funeral! I think his little brother came up with this one.)
4. Morgan requested that his future include some sort of athletic prowess, so the boys decided that Morgan would be playing professional football one day and that during a game he will go up to catch a pass and somehow instead of catching the ball he would catch his sister and spike her in the endzone for a touchdown. He would do a jig to celebrate.
OVERHEARD ON THE WAY HOME:
Tim: "Can Morgan sleep over tonight?"
Me: "Nope. We already have company. Aaron Batdorf is staying over, remember?"
Morgan: "Aaron Bad Elf???"
Tim: "No! Aaron Bad-Orf. He's not an elf, he's like really really tall."
Morgan: "Maybe he is an elf, he just has a height impairment."
Cameron: "Let's sing a song! You guys start with 'Wimoweh, wimoweh' and I'll come in."
All the Guys: "Wimoweh, Wimoweh, Wimoweh, Wimoweh"
Cameron: "In the jungle, the quiet jungle, the lion sleeps tonight, In the jungle the quiet jungle the lion sleeps tonight."
Me (really loudly, out of no where, and high pitched): "Ahh Weeeeeeeee Weee Oh Mamba Weh"
Morgan: "What was THAT?!?!" (laughter all around)
Daniel: "Wait, let's do it again and I'll sing and then we can all come in on that part."
All the guys: "Wimoweh, Wimoweh, Wimoweh, Wimoweh"
Daniel: "In the bathroom, the quiet bathroom, the lion goes tonight. In the bathroom, the quiet bathroom, the lion goes tonight."
All the boys (through giggles): "Ahh Weeeeeeeee Weee Oh Mamba Weh"
If you are ever in need of a good laugh and enough activity to make you sleep through the night - I highly recommend you round up a bunch of 9, 10 and 11 year old boys and take them out for a day of fun. These days are flying by. I am glad today was one for the memory books!
Why We Rest
This week I watched a sermon online entitled, The Hard Work of Rest, about the importance of God-given (and commanded) rest. (Thank you, Pastor Craig!)
The sermon covered many portions of scripture on the topic in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. What stood out to me most came from Deuteronomy 5:12-15 (You'll recognize this as coming from the 10 Commandments):
"Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your man servant and maidservant may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day." NIV
According to this scripture, we see that the original Sabbath day of rest was instituted to remind the Israelites that they had once had earthly masters who required them to work seven days a week as slaves, but that God, their true Master, had rescued them and that the "work" of resting every seventh day was to be a symbol of how they are set apart and have no other Master but God Himself. Nothing else and no one else was to rule their days but Him. No task was more important, no one's wishes more critical to attend to than the Lord of the Sabbath's.
How are we doing with this concept today? Do the activities of our lives show that we have one and only one Master? Or are our schedules driven relentlessly by the demands of the moment? Do our calendars rule over us, or do we order our days as those who have been bought with a price?
I am challenged to rest with purpose... not just to fall into a heap of exhaustion every Sunday after church or to rest needlessly and lazily when my hands have barely labored. Whether I eat or drink, or rest or work, may it all be done to His glory - that the world may see that He is the one sustaining me and that His provision is perfect.
How do you go about resting, as a way of remembering and honoring the God who is in control?
I read something interesting this morning: More than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word Facebook, according to a U.K. survey by Divorce Online, a legal services firm. And over 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys say they’ve seen a rise in the number of cases using social networking, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. So, this begs the question, Is Facebook a threat to marriage? The short answer is something similar to the popular quote by opponents of gun control: Facebook doesn't divorce people, people divorce people. The long answer is a bit more complicated, but boils down to the fact that the ability that Facebook offers to be able to easily find and connect with people around the world (and from your past) can be a temptation that, when viewed as harmless, can wreak havok on perfectly healthy relationships. Here are a few ways to Facebook-proof your marriage:
1. Do NOT "friend" former boyfriends/girlfriends. It may seem harmless to you, but it isn't. Temptation is temptation and just because you aren't acting on it now, doesn't mean that you won't have a weaker moment in the future. Ultimately, you CHOSE your mate, you did NOT choose your exes. Don't keep them closer than necessary. You made your choice, no one but your spouse is any longer an option so don't keep them hanging around waiting in the Facebook wings.
2. Do NOT send private FB messages to people of the opposite sex. Either copy your spouse on the message if that is the best way to get in touch with someone you need to get in touch with, or write the message publicly on the person's wall. This is the same principle as meeting with someone of the opposite sex behind closed doors - it is to be avoided and proactively prevented whenever possible. When you got married, it wasn't just to leave your parents and cleave to your spouse, it was also a vow of FORSAKING ALL OTHERS. Do not create any illusion that you derive any pleasure from the company of another man/woman apart from your spouse, or give yourself the opportunity to do so.
3. Exchange FB passwords with your spouse (or be willing to). This is a no-brainer. If you have something to hide, you are in the wrong, no matter how innocent it is. We are to live lives above reproach. One way to do so is to live as transparently as possible. There should be nothing, no interaction, on FB that your spouse is unaware of.
4. Use Facebook for GOOD in your marriage. Flirt with each other, send messages, chat from across the room, leave encouraging messages on your spouse's wall, show the world that he/she is the most important person in your world. Facebook doesn't have to destroy marriages. It alone isn't good or bad (although my father would debate that with me til his dying day), so use it for good! Build in appropriate protective factors and stick to them.
MARRIAGE IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR! Don't back down from the fight!
1 Corinthians 10:13 - "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out that you can stand up under it." NIV
He gave us something to talk about
"Let's give 'em something to talk about. A little mystery to figure out..." Do you remember this Bonnie Raitt song? Did you start humming it as soon as you read these words? It is one of those songs that I can't help but sing along with when it comes on the radio or I hear it as I walk down the aisles of the grocery store. The lyrics refer to the fact that people are going to talk no matter what, so we might as well give them something to talk about! This is so true in so many ways.
It is true in the business world, where the water cooler chatter is GOING to happen no matter what the company policy is on gossip. The wise CEO or Manager will keep the work environment engaging and purposeful enough that he or she will be able to guide at least some of that conversation in a positive direction.
It is true in education as well. Schools (be they elementary, middle, high schools, or colleges/universities) are little micro-communities. The "buzz" is unstoppable when it starts. When I met my husband, we were both working for the same elementary school. Our budding romantic relationship became the talk of not only the staff, but also the students that year!
It is also true within the church. Both the "little c" local church and in the "Big C" global Church. We are social creatures and we are designed for communication with others. Each believer gives the church and the world something to talk about, whether they intend to or not. As I read the Bible, I find that there are many people who gave the Church wonderful things to talk about:
Philemon verse 7: "Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints." NIV
Philippians 1:4-5: "In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now" NIV
Colossians 1:3-4: "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints" NIV
God has given us plenty of wonderful things to talk about, yet often we keep those things to ourselves and choose instead to vent or complain, or discuss things that will certainly keep others talking, but not in a way that brings about joy or encouragement.
Today, let's take responsibility for the words that we speak. Not just avoiding saying things that are negative or unhealthy, but purposefully sharing something that God has given us to talk about! Don't just give in to the pointless conversations that abound around you, give the world and the Church something to talk about that will bring encouragement and joy. God doesn't teach us things or let us experience things so that we can simply ponder them in the quietness of our hearts (though there is a time for that). Eventually, we are to share those lessons learned and experiences with those we come in contact with. Every good and perfect gift God gives us on earth is not only meant for our own encouragement, but also for the encouragement of others. He has given us something to talk about and a mystery to figure out. Let's get to it!
Lately my friends have been cracking me up via their social networking comments. Thought I'd share a few... Names have been left off to protect me from potential litigation.
1. "Out of the mouth of babes. Me: 'Kids, mommy doesn't want to be interrupted while I do my exercise video'. Daughter: 'What's that mommy?'. Older son: 'Oh you wouldn't know. It's something mommy used to do back in the olden days before you were born.'. Okay, so it's been a few years....gotta start somewhere I guess!"
2. "Did I just see someone driving with their left foot stuck out of the window--sitting on top of the side view mirror? Why yes, I do believe it was. #ThingsYouSeeOnCountryRoads"
3. "Is it wrong that my husband and I "borrowed" money from our kids' cash stash to get a churro and hot dog at Costco??"
4. "A new study shows that people with children are happier than people who are childless. This study was not taken at the airport."
5. A father on FB quoting his 1st grade daughter, "When I go to college I'm going to find a man who will dance in the rain with me, and he won't pick his nose."
6. (Status accompanying a photo of a teary-eyed toddler in a cape) "Mom ushers son into superherodom. He is not as pleased as was expected. Apparently his super power is crying."
7. Mom to preschool aged daughter: "What rhymes with big?" Daughter: "Bum?"
8. "I imagine the hardest job in the world must be working at a bubble wrap factory. You'd have to have serious self control. Must. Not. Pop. Bubbles!"
9. "Okay people of Pinterest. We need to choose. Either the dessert pics go or the thinspiration pics go. WE CAN'T HAVE BOTH!"
10. Posted by a seminary grad's wife: "Turns out the seminary lets graduates buy a certificate to honor their wives' work too. #IPreferJewelry #OrMexicanFood"
Please join me in welcoming to the world my precious nephew, Gibson Ray. I adore him already and can't wait to meet him in person. His big brother, Jude Beckett, will be showing him the ropes soon enough, I'm sure.
Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for welcoming me into your family and into your heart when I became your daughter-in-law 14 years ago. I once read about the mother/daughter-in-law relationship that, “Over time, wise women will come to value and appreciate the role of each other in the life of the man they both love.” I hope we are on our way to that place. It hasn’t always been easy. I know that I am not always the easiest person to get to know. I can be quiet and withdrawn at times and withhold things that others might readily share. I already had a strong support system in my life when I met you and maybe I haven’t depended on you as much as other young women would have. I don’t know if up to this point we have had the kind of relationship that you hoped to have with a daughter-in-law or not. I do know that divorcing your son is not a desire or option in my life and never will be so, Lord-willing, we have many more years to figure all this out!
Thank you for raising your son, my husband. Thank you for your devotion to him over the years and your commitment to see him succeed and be happy. He is the love of my life. I am his wife, the one he has chosen to bring into this family, to spend the rest of our lives together. I know that our life will be a journey and that it hasn’t always been (and won’t always be) easy, but I want you to know how much I love your son and how “worth it” it is for me to work hard to make our relationship a blessing to each other and to those around us. You didn’t give up on him along the way, and I want you to know that I never will either. I will fulfill my vows and continue meaning everything I said to him on our wedding day, and then some.
Life in Christian ministry is exciting and challenging, rewarding and draining. I know that this may not be what you had in mind for him when you were raising him, but you have taken pride in his decision to follow after God and walk this path and that is a beautiful thing. It would give us no greater joy than to share more of this part of our lives with you, but we will never force that. If you ever want us (or me personally) to pray with you or for you, or have questions or thoughts about the Bible or Christian life that you want to share with us, please don’t hesitate. Why should we share this most deep and meaningful part of our lives with the world and not with our own family members?
Just in case I’ve never mentioned it, I want to say thanks for several ways that you have blessed me over the past 14 years:
1. You have made a point to get to know me. You read my blog and my Facebook status updates and you always respond to my emails and voice mails. You ask me questions and want to hear the answers. You have done a much better job of this with me than I have done with you. I have noticed. Thank you.
2. You are very generous. On Christmas at your house, I feel like the belle of the ball! Seriously spoiled. I don’t think you have ever visited our house that you haven’t called when you get close to town and ask if I need anything from the store. There are many examples I could give, but when you and Jim were some of the first to sign up to financially support us when we became missionaries, that spoke volumes. “Thank you” doesn’t say enough.
3. You do not harass me for my shortcomings or point them out unnecessarily. I am not the perfect daughter-in-law. No surprise there, I am sure. I forget birthdays and anniversaries. I sometimes hoard my family to myself and don’t share them with you as much as I could. I don’t always strike up the most exciting conversations. I know these things because I am self aware, but not because you point them out or make me feel guilty for them. Thank you for that.
4. You will drop everything to help us if we need you. I fondly remember the days we spent together taking care of Timmy and not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE foster children for a week while Jason was out of town!!! We were the dynamic duo! Just your presence there was what it took to make the week not just bearable but enjoyable. Sometimes I wonder if you wish I needed you more. I’m a pretty independent lady, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t treasure the knowledge that if/when I do need you, you would be there! Thank you.
5. You do not criticize the way I do things. I am not as good at keeping house as you are. My baseboards are often cruddy and window sills are frequently lined with dust. Yours aren’t. The bathrooms are rarely pristine and my kitchen cabinets are less than organized. Yours are. I do not always parent my son the way you would. I throw away things that you would keep. I misplace things or damage things that you have a system to keep track of and take care of. There are many things that I do differently than you would do, I am sure. I know this because I’ve gotten to know you and spent many hours in your home, but not because you make a big deal out of our differences. You don’t. Thank you for that.
I am publishing this letter to you on my blog rather than just printing it out and mailing it to you for two reasons: 1. To celebrate you publically, and 2. No one is perfect, but you have done a lot of things right in this whole mother/daughter-in-law relationship and I think other mothers-in-law would like to hear the things that have stood out to this daughter-in-law most over the past 14 years. There is no manual you get at your son’s wedding telling you how to go about loving his new wife well, so we have to help each other out along the way.
I love you and thought you should know (and so should the rest of the world). HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!
I caved to social networking peer pressure tonight and went to see The Avengers movie at our local theater. Everyone raved about it and so many people have already seen it more than once, I just couldn't help myself. The New York Times review of the movie said that it was about titanic egos on the same team trying not to fight each other. Sounds like some places I've worked before!
As I sat in my seat in the sold-out theater and took it in, in all it's Marvel glory, I couldn't help but notice all of the nods to leadership styles and techniques on display throughout the film. (Yeah, I know, I am just a laugh a minute. Who thinks about this stuff while watching a superhero movie?!?) Anyway, here are my top five Leadership Lessons Learned from The Avengers (in no particular order):
1. Know your team well and let them play to their strengths whenever possible. You never see Nick Fury micromanaging anyone.
2. Keep your cool under pressure. (obviously this lesson isn't learned from the Hulk) We have Agent Coulson to thank for this one. One. Cool. Dude.
3. Do the right thing, always, especially when the temptation not to is strongest, and empower others to take the high road as well. While Tony Stark may not be known for this noble characteristic throughout all Marvel history, in this particular film he does the right thing when it matters and he challenges the Hulk to harness his own capacity for good as well.
4. Using threats and force to garner a following may be temporarily effective, but it doesn't end well. Loki played this one out for us. The hero in a leadership situation like this one is the person who stands up to such a leader, not the leader him/herself. (LOVED the white haired gentleman who refused to let Loki bully him! I seriously wanted to cheer.)
5. Let your actions speak loudly and inspire trust. Don't tell people to trust you, show them they can. Captain America had one of the best scenes in the movie wherein he was telling the NYPD officers how best to assist in the effort to thwart the alien invasion. He gave them specific instructions and orders and they just stood there in the street looking at him until one of them asked, "Why should I listen to you?" Why indeed! In that moment, several aliens attacked and the officers looked on as Captain America single-handedly took them out. Immediately, the officer who had questioned him, relayed his orders to the rest of the police force and started carrying them out.
What lessons did you pick up from the movie? Or are you one of THOSE people who just go to the movies for fun...and not to find yet another way to analyze life as we know it. :)
That's What Timmy Said
I love my son. I would love him even if I wasn't his mother. I just think he is a fun kid... and a funny kid. He regularly makes me laugh and he surprises me more than anyone else on the planet... just when I think I have him figured out, he shows me he is still growing and changing and learning new things. Do you think that God gives us the delights of 10 and 11 year old boys so that when they are 12-17 year old boys we don't completely lose our minds when their rooms stink to high heaven, and they take uncalculated risks, and they make questionable friendships, and they want to get tattoos of weird things, and they learn how to drive and joke with their mothers about how fast they got the car up to the night before, and they fall in love with a girl and start acting funny, and they choose to play violent sports like football and hockey and lacrosse instead of tennis and golf? I do.
Here are some of the things my Timmy has said and done lately...
1. His screen saver on his school laptop is currently a painting of a primitive house with a sod roof. (Normally it is a Pokemon character or a picture of a dog or cat doing something cute/funny.) If you ask him about his unique photo choice, he will tell you that he is learning about homesteaders in school and how they used what they could find on the land to build shelters and that "that's cool."
2. "Mom, what do you and Dad DO after I go to sleep anyway?!?" (said upon his realization that we don't go to sleep for sometimes hours after he has gone to bed each night).
3. He waved to a stranger (to me anyway) as we walked down the street yesterday. Apparently, the guy is a regular at the local coffee shop where Timmy bartered with the manager for free milkshakes and cookies in exchange for his lego collection (which he felt he had outgrown, sigh).
4. When we left a recent school field trip to the bowling alley, he held my hand and said, "That girl was really nice, Mom." He was referring to a sweet young lady with mental retardation who came right up and introduced herself to him when he arrived and even though she ended up with the lowest score of the day and never seemed to really grasp the rules of the game, seemed to have a great time just being with people. "Yes, she was nice." I'm glad he noticed. I am glad THAT was what he noticed.
5. "Do you think I'm old enough to go on a mission trip, Mom?" Heaven help me! I don't know if I am more excited that he is thinking about such a thing or that he still wants to hear what I think!?!?
6. "Mom, for finals week, I think I want to make a batch of homemade ice cream and just give it away to the college students instead of making them pay for it."
7. He walks the dogs almost everyday for fun and fancies himself quite the dog whisperer.
8. Each morning we ask him how he slept the night before and he'll say things like, "Pretty good, I only got 9 hours of sleep though." or "I was up until like 9:50!" *yawn*
9. We went through the Dairy Queen drive through the other day for a quick surprise treat BEFORE lunch and he asked for a small blizzard. I ordered him a MINI blizzard instead and he said, "Mom, I wanted a small!" "Well," I said, "I guess we could just cancel our order and go straight home for lunch..." Timmy immediately changed his tune: "What was I thinking?! A mini will be just right. Who would want a small before lunch anyway!? Sheesh that would just be silly."
10. He regularly begs me to stand back-to-back with him or put my hands or feet up to his so we can determine if he has grown or if he has gotten any bigger than me in some way. (His feet are bigger than mine and he's got about four inches to go before he looks me square in the eye.)
I don't want to forget these days of innocence and growth spurts and easy laughter and quick forgiveness and tween boy fun. I want his smile and giggle and funny sayings to be burned into my memory. This season will be gone before I know it and we'll be on to new and different things. Each stage with Tim is an adventure, but I think that I'm going to look back at this particular part of the adventure as one of my favorites. :)
Matthew 18:1-3 (ESV) - "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, 'Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'"
This picture of us was taken at a wedding reception we went to recently (Hi Nate and Ashley!). The couple had this great stand set up with floating picture frames, their monogram and the date of the wedding along with a table full of props and a camera on a tripod that had a timer feature. As the wedding guests got brave enough to venture over and give it a try, the results were pretty fun and produced some great shots (that the newlyweds wouldn't have had otherwise) of their family and friends (which I'm sure were fun to look through after they returned from their honeymoon).
I don't know where they got this clever idea, but I've noticed lately that creative wedding ideas ABOUND on the internet. We know several young couples who are getting married this year, and the wedding planning is in full force. Here are some of the ideas that I've seen lately online (stay with me, there is a point to all of this):
So many great, creative party planning ideas abound! The ideas are easy to find and as you plan, there are usually no shortage of people who will be willing to listen to all of your ideas, get excited with you about the possibilities and offer their suggestions to make the day just perfect. In the midst of all of this excitement, there are also some GREAT ideas for preparing for your pending marriage. At the end of the day, every bride and groom has to know that the wedding is only a few hours out of their lives, but their marriage is intended to last for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. Imagine a couple putting the same kind of investment into planning for marriage as most brides put into planning their wedding! Sounds like a good idea to me. Here are some ideas for planning and preparing for a life together that honors God:
I hope these practical suggestions are helpful! I can't wait to go to all of the beautiful weddings this summer and see all of our friends' fabulous ideas for the ceremonies and receptions, but even more than that, I can't wait to see how they develop strong, God honoring marriages by the energy and effort they pour in ahead of time and throughout their lives together.
Look Out World!
Why is it that in the weeks leading up to university graduation, I become so much more attached to the seniors in our group? I start to see them differently and my heart bursts with excitement over who they have become and the possibilities that their futures hold. This year we have more graduates at one time than we have ever had in the past and I'm finding it harder and harder to keep my emotions in check as this weekend's ceremonies approach. Seriously, world, you have no idea how many fine young people are about to launch. Perhaps I'll introduce you to a few of them:
CHARLOTTE: Charlotte is a Secondary English Education and Special Education major. She is an over-comer. She is sensitive. She loves teaching and takes absolute joy in the triumphs and achievements of her students. She is loyal and kind and smart. I once drug her all over the streets of Brooklyn, in the dark, and we both lived to tell the tale (and laugh about it). She is learning to use her imagination and embrace the "what could be." Congratulations, Charlotte. I adore you and always will. Your future is so bright.
BRIANNA: Brianna is a pre-PA student, so graduation will be merely a time to take a deep breath before diving into her didactic year of the Physician's Assistant program. Brianna is a natural leader. She is witty and goofy. She is a picky eater, and somehow made it into her 20's before ever tasting a bean! I tease her that when she gives her friends make-overs they all end up looking just like her. If she stays on the path she is on, pursuing Christ wholeheartedly, who wouldn't want to look like her? Congratulations, Brianna. I'm excited about your next "mission field."
JIHYUN: Jihyun is from South Korea. He came to Lock Haven to get his Master's Degree in International Studies. When we met him, Jason and I agreed that if you looked up "Salt of the Earth" in the dictionary, you would see a picture of Jihyun. He has taught children's Sunday school classes at his church and led the International Bible study on campus, and I don't think he has ever met anyone that he didn't make laugh. How many international students do you know who would get up in front of everyone at an American church potluck and tell an embarrassing (and hysterical) story about themselves? It is this amazing blend of bravery and humility that make him so special. Congratulations, Jihyun. We are so blessed to know you.
AARON: Aaron is graduating with a degree in Community Health and has been accepted into the Master of Divinity program at seminary. He is the quietest leader I have ever met (I mean that in a great way). He has an infectious laugh and the most even temper of anyone I've met. He is unflappable. After miraculously surviving being burned over a large percentage of his body as a young man, it is apparent that God preserved his life because He has GREAT plans for him. Congratulations, Aaron. We stand with breathless anticipation to see all that God will accomplish through you in the years to come. We are your biggest fans!
RYAN & JENNA: Ryan is receiving a degree in Health and Physical Education and Jenna is graduating with a degree in Education. We had the privilege of providing premarital counseling to Ryan and Jenna and we have high hopes for them for their future together. They will both make outstanding teachers and will be a great team in ministry as well. Ryan is easy-going and has a true servant's heart (and he can traverse a high-ropes course BLINDFOLDED!). Jenna is bubbly and outgoing and has never met a stranger - only friends she hasn't gotten to know yet. We look forward to your wedding in June! Congratulations Ryan and Jenna. We have full confidence in each of you!
KASEY: Kasey, I cannot remember what degree you are getting! How lame is that? Maybe it is because she is so good at so many things. Kasey was a student athlete at LHU and we loved seeing her swim long distances at both home and away swim-meets and watch her enthusiastically cheer her teammates on poolside. She is artsy and whimsical and fun and lovely. She is tenderhearted and sincere. The world is a better place because it has a Kasey in it. Congratulations, Kasey. We wish you and Joel all the best and hope you will walk with the Lord all of your days.
JILLIAN: Jillian is graduating with a degree in Early Childhood Education. This is her second bachelor's degree! Jillian is a true friend, faithful wife, dedicated teacher, and loyal daughter and sister. She has tremendous inner strength and maintains a grateful attitude. She is not afraid of hard-work. She sees what makes people special and unique, even when they don't see it themselves. Jillian, you are an inspiration. Keep fighting to be all that God has created you to be. We love you.
Welcome these graduates with open hearts and arms, dear world! They are going to WOW you! :)
Joshua 1:9 (NIV) - "... be strong and courageous, do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go"
One Way to Study the Bible
"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.'" - John 8:31-32 NASB
There are many ways to approach studying God's Word. Below is one approach to personal Bible study that Priscilla Shirer shared at the Going Beyond simulcast event today in Orlando, FL. (This is just ONE WAY to approach scripture study... not the only way.)
1. POSITION YOURSELF to hear from God. Position yourself both physically and spiritually to get the most out of your time in the Bible. Physically: reduce distractions as much as possible. Spiritually: come with a heart and mind that EXPECT to get something of great value out of your time in the Word, and come with a knowledge and acceptance of your dependency on the Holy Spirit to help you fully grasp and apply what you read.
2. POUR OVER the passage and PARAPHRASE the major points. Read, re-read, focus on, think about, consider context, give as much attention to the text as time and the situation allow. Then write down the major points in your own words. Do not twist what you have read in anyway, just write down the major points simply, in your own words.
3. PULL OUT the spiritual principles. Is there a promise made? Is there a command to follow? Is there a sin to avoid? Is there an attribute of God or man described? Write down what you find.
4. POSE the question(s). Ask yourself questions that are based on what you've read and answer them honestly. Example: Do I need to adjust my thinking or actions based on what I've read? Does my life show that I really believe this scripture? etc.
5. PLAN obedience and PIN DOWN a day and way to obey. The whole point of studying scripture is to know God better and to conform our lives to His will. Don't get up from your time studying the Bible without deciding how and when you will obey what you've felt convicted about. We do not become the people God wants us to be through happenstance, we have to be willing to make strategic decisions regarding obedience to His Word and act on them over and over again.
An aside: Make a decision to never walk away from your time studying the Bible disappointed. Sometimes it will take days of digesting a particular passage before it sinks into our souls. Also, you NEVER know how God will use what you read that day in your life or in the life of someone else. You may get up from your Bible study time feeling a little bit perplexed, like you didn't really have any clear revelation that day, and then later that afternoon you will have a conversation with someone and discover that they need to hear the exact Word from God that He gave you that morning. Our time in scripture should not just benefit us, but benefit those we come in contact with.
Power of Proactive Parenting
I went to a local book sale yesterday. It was in an old high school gymnasium and there were rows and rows of folding tables covered with all kinds of books, all for $2 or less. I went SLOWLY up and down every aisle not wanting to miss a potential treasure. The stack of books I walked away with made me laugh. There is no rhyme or reason to the things that caught my attention, but I suppose that is also just part of who I am. I like a multitude of authors,a plethora of genres, a variety of musicians, and don't even try to pin me down on what my favorite color or animal is!! How can one get tied down to just one of ANYTHING?!? ... other than a spouse, of course. :)
One of the books that caught my attention was, Faith of Our Fathers, by John McCain. I brought it home (for 50 cents, no less), and started reading it last night. In the prologue, are the following quotes:
“Our family lived on the move, rooted not in a location, but in the culture of the Navy. I learned from my mother not just to take the constant disruptions in stride, but to welcome them as elements of an interesting life.”
“First made a migrant by the demands of my father’s career, in time I became self-moving, a rover by choice. In such a life, some fine things are left behind, and missed. But bad times are left behind as well. You move on, remembering the good, while the bad grows obscure in the distance.”
I had to pause after reading this section and think about the influence that John McCain's mother had on his life. The book itself, is not about her. It is about his father and his grandfather, who were both Four Star Admirals, and about McCain's own life and how he tried to live up to his impressive military heritage. Even so, his mention of this gift of perspective from his mother in the prologue speaks volumes to me about the impact we can have in shaping our children's view of the context of their lives. His father and grandfather gave him an example to strive toward and his mother gave him a proper perspective of the challenges of his military upbringing. These influences came together, by God's grace, to make John McCain into a man who, later in life as a prisoner of war, had the fortitude to refuse a dishonorable early release by his captors based on his family legacy and endure five years of torture and solitary confinement.
As parents, it is our responsibility to give our children an example to follow and an attitude to embrace. Children don't get to choose the family or the circumstances that they are born into, but they do get to choose their attitude. There were many times in John McCain's life when he resented the pressure of being the son and grandson of Navy Admirals. His mother could have commiserated with him... she, no doubt, suffered greatly as the wife of a man who was away more than he was home and who was constantly in harms way. But she didn't. She taught him that his life was "interesting," not bad, "interesting." Over time, this birthed in him an ability to see his circumstances as temporal and his chosen attitude as permanent.
As a little girl, my parents moved our family from Florida to Arizona. We moved away from every family member and friend we knew. We moved from a lovely, brick ranch home on acreage with a pond in the backyard and horses across the street to an aluminum mobile home in a trailer park in the desert. You might think that as a child, I was devastated by the change. I was not. It was an adventure! It was an adventure because my mother and father made it an adventure. I vividly remember my mother telling me about the "chandelier" hanging in the dining room of our new home in Arizona. (It was really a simple hanging light fixture, but because of my mother's excitement and description, it was a chandelier to all of us, and we couldn't wait to get to Arizona to see it.) I remember as we drove across the county line in Arizona, as we crested a hill and the town we would be living in came into view, my father said with great pride, "Look! The promised land!" It was lovely, but it was a different kind of lovely than we had ever seen before... desert instead of forests, wide open spaces, sand and bright red rock formations instead of grass and lush greenery, a man-made lake instead of the Gulf of Mexico. In that moment, and for the rest of my childhood, however, there would be no comparing it to what we had known before, it was only "the promised land."
As an adult I have moved many times and seen much of the country and I am grateful to my parents who gave me an example to live up to and an attitude to embrace, and now it is mine to pass on to my son.
Proverbs 22:6 KJV "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."
Today I saw one of those cute printables on Pinterest. You know the ones I'm talking about. This one had a list of 21 questions to ask your kiddos. I should have glanced at the questions before I started asking Tim, but I didn't. As I made my way down the list, I realized every question had to do with ME... what he thought of me, his perceptions of me, etc. Oh dear.
Well, it certainly could have gone worse. Some of his answers were actually very sweet and even encouraging. Others were a bit too accurate, if you get my drift. Here are the results:
1. What does your Mom say to you all the time? "Do your chore sheet!" (I'd like to think I say it a little nicer than that... perhaps not? hmmm.)
2. What makes your Mom happy? "Food." (I'm working on that one, maybe by this time next year he will say something like, "the stairmaster.")
3. What makes your Mom sad? "When I do bad things." (Awww, I guess it does make me sad, but I wish he would have said something like "people living in poverty" or "seeing people hurting" or something more big picture and less day-to-day. C'est la vie. I suppose I don't show him what saddens me much of the time... I'll have to ponder that one.)
4. What makes your Mom laugh? "Funny TV shows." (That's a gimme.)
5. What did your Mom like to do when she was a kid? "Ummm, cheerleading, I think?" (Did I ever!!! I also liked riding my bike around the block in our trailer park, pretending it was a horse... ahhh, the weird old days.)
6. How old is your Mom? "You are 37, right?" (Right.)
7. How tall is your Mom? "Five Foot Four." (Wrong.)
8. What is your Mom's favorite thing to do? "Hang out with people." (I like this one.)
9. What does your Mom do when you aren't around? "Go on a date with Dad." (Yup! I'd like to think that this answer means we are communicating volumes to our son about the joy of marriage and our commitment to each other... in actuality, who knows what he's thinking!)
10. If your Mom was famous, what would it be for? "I have no idea on this one." (Thanks for the vote of confidence, Son.) ;)
11. What is your Mom really good at? "Writing." (Awww. Thanks!)
12. What is your Mom NOT good at? "Jumping." (Okay, weird answer, but okay.)
13. What does your Mom do for work? "Nothing now." (Correct-a-mundo! Unless you count laundry, cooking, vacuuming, dishes... but what almost-11-year-old boy counts those things? The DNC Advisor didn't even think that those things were work for Ann Romney and she had FIVE sons!)
14. What is your Mom's favorite food? "Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory." (Krazy Kraig's Carrot Cake Cheesecake to be exact, and their Santa Fe Chicken Salad is equally divine... well, maybe not equally.)
15. What are you most proud of your Mom for? "That she is a good Mom." (I'm not makin this stuff up, folks! Can someone hand me a tissue?)
16. If your Mom was a cartoon character which one would she be? "Umm, that smart girl from Scooby Doo. Velma?" (Well, its no Wonder Woman, but it could have been worse, I do wear glasses.)
17. What do you do with your Mom? "We watch movies... eat... go places... I don't know!" (Hmmm, time to add a bit of variety to the routine, perhaps.)
18. How are you and your Mom the same? "We both have blonde hair." (True enough.)
19. How are you and your Mom different? "Um, I'm a boy and she's a girl." (Thank you, Captain Obvious! I thought about pressing him for a different answer on this one, but I suppose that gender is an important distinction.)
20. How do you know your Mom loves you? "You tell me so." (And I always will.)
21. Where is your Mom's favorite place to go? "France." "Tim, I've never been to France." "Oh. Then Disney World!" (Well, definitely in my top five anyway!)
Ask a kid in your life these questions and see what you find out! You never know unless you ask.
Now I think I will sit down and answer the same questions about my Mom and send my response to her in her Mother's Day card. :) I wonder how tall she is these days...
The Holy Spirit of God
Today in my personal time of Bible study, I was compelled to write down all of the ways that I can find that God tells us in scripture that the Holy Spirit is (or should be) active in the lives of Believers. I tend to focus on one or two of His qualities and neglect others, but this is not the way I want to live and it is not the way I was designed to live. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is God Himself, present and active, enabling believers to do whatever God asks of us. Here is what I've uncovered so far:
- The Holy Spirit lets us know what God's will is for us. "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." John 16:13 NIV
- The Holy Spirit guides us into all Truth, teaching us Truth and reminding us of Truth. "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." John 14:26 NIV "He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." John 16:45-15 NIV
- The Holy Spirit helps us when we pray. "In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." Romans 8:26-28 NIV "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:18 NIV
- The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God in our lives like a sword. "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God." Ephesians 6:17 NIV "For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 NIV
- The Holy Spirit's presence in our lives is reassurance of our salvation. "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NIV
- He gives us the ability to understand spiritual things and to live counter-culturally when necessary. "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 NIV
- The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to say no to our natural sinful tendencies. "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." Galatians 5:16-18
- The Holy Spirit produces Christ-like qualities in our lives. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
I want to know God's will for my life!
I want to know what is True and be reminded of it when I forget!
I want help to pray when I don't know how to pray!
I want the Word of God to make a difference in my life and help me discern my true motivations!
I want to have assurance of my salvation!
I want to understand spiritual things and have what it takes to live out my convictions even when it is hard!
I want to be able to reject the sinful tendencies in my life!
I want my life to be full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control!
Apparently what I really want is to embrace the reality of the Holy Spirit of God living within me! "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Galatians 5:25 NIV
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!