Saturday, December 30, 2017

Prisoner of War

In Concentration camps, throughout Germany, rumors circulated that the Allies had come to the rescue.  It wouldn't be long and this war would be over and the horrors that millions had suffered would be a memory, instead of a constant living hell.  Rumors, whispers were enough to give some hope to stay alive, but for others it wasn't enough, day after day, people searched for ways to end it all.   It doesn't take long for the reality of your daily misery to make you forget all the joy behind you and the hope of the future set before you.

Imagine with me, day after day, of fear, starvation, human suffering to a degree I pray to never fully understand.  The atrocities and humiliation of prisoners of war, you can only know if you have experienced it.   The misery of always thinking and hoping this would be your last day...  This has been your reality so long you aren't sure you have the strength to believe you will be rescued from this hell.  But you've heard the rumors.  You want to hope, but day after day it's the same...  you're a prisoner of war, in the camp of your enemy.

Searching the skies, listening for a distant rumble, waiting.   You've heard the rumors, THE WAR IS OVER.  The enemy has been defeated.  The Allies have WON... but where is the rescue.  Who will set the captives free?

It's been more than 2000 years since we heard "THE WAR IS OVER."  Mark's gospel (good news) heralds "Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

"Jesus went through Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God: The time is fulfilled, and the KINGDOM OF GOD has come near." Mark 1:15

On the cross, our Savior, delivers the death blow to our enemies.  His ultimate act of war, having risen from the grave, conquering death...  He ascends to his throne as the reining King of kings.

But, we are still on enemy turf.  The enemy has been defeated, but we're still down here waiting to be rescued.

The Bible tells us that we are in a war.  From the beginning to the end the Bible is an epic, a saga, a chronicle of the war that is being played out until the Reigning King comes to claim his people.

In ancient times the conquering king would send out heralds to the cities with the "gospel" - the good news... "We have fought for you, we have won, and now you're no longer slaves; you're free."  -Timothy Keller.

Jesus the conquering King had defeated the enemy and he has sent out the good news through the Gospels...  We are His now.  We are free now.  He is coming to take us home soon.

Getting personal though and to be honest...  I feel like one of those prisoners in the enemy camp.  I hear the rumors.  I keep hoping I will see the rescue, but sometimes I can't see past this camp.   I have a hard time believing there is an rescue coming.

The enemy is so good at psychological warfare.  Yes, I believe there is a real spiritual enemy.  He has many names in the Bible; satan, the devil, Lucifer, the serpent...but his most telling name is the "father of lies".  He is the master deceiver.  He knows how to steal hope and kill joy.  From the beginning he cast suspicion on God's character and lures God's people away from him.  He continues to the same thing today.

Over the loud speaker of our minds he screams lies to make us doubt all that God has told us through his Word.  I feel like I am in a constant battle to hold onto and believe what I know to be true....  Jesus is my Savior, He is coming again, and He is preparing a place for me.

Christian, this is a war and we are still on the battlefield.  We are fighting the battle to Believe... We are fighting constantly to hold on to the ground that we have gained through faith.

The Bible tells us that satan is the "god of this age" 2 Cor. 4:4 and the "prince of the power of the air" Eph. 2:2, and "ruler of this world" Eph. 12:31.  As long as we are in this world we are deep in enemy territory.  This place is not our home, but let us hold on to and remember that we do have a home.  We all feel and know that this place doesn't feel right.  Eternity has been set in our hearts.  We have a longing for that place.  We may still be fighting battle, but the War has already been won.  As we are waiting to be rescued, let us not give up on what we know to be true.  The KING is coming.  The stories that we have heard are true.  Keep the hope alive.

Corrie Ten Boom, a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, suffered the same atrocities as others, however, she was able to keep her hope alive during her imprisonment, by reading a small pocket Bible she had been able to sneak into the camp.  She and her sister Betsie held worship services in their barracks with other women.   Corrie Ten Boom said that when they opened that Bible they "would hear the LIFE-GIVING words passed along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, and back into Dutch.  They were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the light."

Heaven is never more real to us than when we suffer on earth.  If you are going through a hard time, maybe you're ready to give up the fight, you're tired of holding on...  you're not sure if you even believe all this anymore.. grab your sword, open it up and refresh your soul again with the words of life.  Drink deeply of the life giving Word of God and believe that your King is Coming, the War is over... we're just waiting for the rescue.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Facing the Giants...

My heart dropped into my stomach.  Tears rushed to my eyes.  My mind went to places no football mom wants to go to.  Broken legs, concussions and torn ACL....  My baby is sitting in the far end zone with his team, waiting for his game to begin.  A rag-tag group of 11-12 year olds.   A few are taller than  me, but some of them look more like 8 year olds, with tiny spindly arms and just enough weight that wind won't blow them over.  Hyped up and ready to do what they love...  football.  When a group of players from the team they will be facing walk by and every jaw dropped from our side of the stadium.  There was no way these could be 6th and 7th graders...  They were huge and they had more swagger than P Diddy...

The "Intimidation Walk" as it was termed did exactly what it was supposed to do.  Our football players became little boys again.  They lost there heart right in that moment.  Not only were they going to lose this game, they were going to get crushed. 

Immediately I started praying.  My kid was one of the biggest on our team, but he was a baby compared to what he was going to be playing against.  Even though he was my biggest concern, the other kids that were a 1/3 of the size of these boy/men had me even more nervous.

When It was finally time for the boys to go out on the field, I watched heartsick, as they trudged to the center of the field to meet the opposing team.  There was a handshake, then confusion, and finally a delay.  In the stands we have no way of knowing what's going on... but we had been told that there were players from the previous game that were disqualified for being older and playing down.  I could only hope and pray that's what was happening down on that field, because surely those were men and not boys.  There had to be facial hair and muscles that could tell the story. 

After several minutes of the officials and coaches talking, we saw 5 or 6 of the other teams players walking off the field.  Then we heard mom's from the other side yelling about how we had some big players too and it wasn't fair to send their kids home.  Relief!  Some of the giants were disqualified.  But that still left 9-10 very impressive football players. 

The game went as expected.  The giants played a really good game of football.  They played the way I would love our boys to play, but they were huge.  They crashed through the O-line time and time again and when they reached our little quarterback they slammed him to the ground.  One time he laid there on the ground for 5 minutes and it looked like he was knocked out, but thankfully he was able to hobble over to the bench and stay there for the rest of the game.  

On that play the guy blocking our quarterback was so intimidated he just stepped aside and let our QB get crushed.  Who could blame him???  Not this mom. 

Play after play they crushed our O-line and kept us from scoring a point.  They laughed and jeered.  They talked smack, as did their parents who were making fun of our kids for getting hurt.   Even when they were up by 31 points, they kicked onside kicks and recovered the ball over and over again.  To say they demolished us would be an understatement.  It was a sound defeat and it hurt.

After the game the other team was jawing about how bad they beat us and how much we stink.  Even the parents were talking smack to our sad little team.  At one point a mom from our side said "Of  course you won...  you had 15yr olds playing against 11-12yr olds."  The mom from the other team said "No, he(her son I guess) is only 13."  Only 13 is still too old and he was one of the kids who didn't get sent home.  How old were they?

It's always tough to go home the loser, but this one really stunk.  It felt unfair, impossible even.  My son played one of the best defensive games of his life.  He loves that kind of challenge and I was so proud of him.  He knew from the beginning there was no way they could win, but that didn't stop him from playing his heart out.  He sacked, he picked, he plowed through their O-line, but he lost.  Play after play when the score board said "give's no use"...  he played his position to the best of his ability to the last play of the game.  He has more heart than I do.  But, he still lost... bad. 

Sadly, we were gonna have to play this team again.  It was hard to make it through that game, much less endure another one just like it.

The next day, we received an email from our league...  The "giants" had been disqualified for integrity issues.  As suspected all that swagger couldn't belong to boys who had yet to go through puberty.  Disqualified.  It didn't count and won't be playing them again. 

Yeah all that jawing...  for nothing. 

That reminds of another story.   You know the one where the 12 guys are following this one guy around, who claims to be the Savior of the world.  You know the one where that guy gets put  on trial for blasphemy and sentenced to death.  The one where he is beaten to the point of no longer resembling the man he once was.  The man who was mocked and his beard pulled out and spat upon.  The man who carried a roman cross on his beaten and bloodied back, with a crown  of thorns crushed into his head.  The man who was nailed to a cross for healing the blind and making the lame walk.  The one who died beside  common criminals.  Yeah it reminded me of how those guys, who had laid everything on the line and followed this guy they thought was Messiah.  Now here they are staring up at him on a cross.  Defeated.  Disillusioned.  Confused. 

The enemy is simply giddy.  He's won.  He played dirty.  He screaming from the roof tops...  It's over.  All is lost.  NOW WHAT??????

Those guys have no idea what to do now.  The guy with all the answers is gone.  It's over.  He's buried inside a tomb. 

BUT, that's NOT the end.  It's just the beginning.  Early in the morning on the 3rd day they get the call.  He's not there.  He's RISEN.  Death, lies, sin, shame, the enemy of our souls...  all DEFEATED. 

Death disqualified.  He is Risen.  Hope is restored.  Jesus conquers the enemy. 

11 men are overwhelmed and can't believe what they are hearing.... He's ALIVE.  Everything is going to be OK. 

David asked the question many times...  Why does my enemy prosper?  Sometimes it looks like the bad guy always wins...  but that's not the end of the story.

There have been so many times following Jesus and doing what he wants me to do, has put me on a field, staring across from an opponent who is stronger than me, tougher than me, he understand the game better than I do.  The other team crushes through my o-line and knocks me to the ground.  I've been know to lay right there and not get up.  I don't have the heart to try again.  I want the coach to put me on the bench and forget about me.  The other team is jawing at me with all their puberty laced testosterone and I'm shaking in my boots.  I'm not the kid who thrives off stiff competition.  I'm the kid that turns sideways and just lets the enemy run through. 

But, GOD,  help me to remember that even though I might be weak and not much of a player, even though I will lose a lot of games...  The end of the story is I'm on the winning team.  The star player has won the super bowl already.  The enemy will be defeated.  You want me to get back up again.  You want me to hold on to the TRUTH... that IF God be for me, who can be against me.  You want me to remember how much glory you get using the weak things of the world to confound the wise. 

You used a young shepherd boy to slay a 9 ft. tall giant and you can use me, no matter how impossible that might seem. 

It's hard to remember and sometimes the game "looks" so lopsided that you start to believe that it's all for nothing  and it would be better to give up...  but keep your eyes fixed on the truth that Jesus already won the game...  Just keep playing your position til it's over.  Get back up again.  Shake it off.  He's got this!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Hard to love.

I have 5 children, each one of them unique, beautiful, and challenging in their own ways... but I have this one...  don't judge me, but he is hard to love.  I don't mean the feeling of love... although there are days and times that even that is in question, but I mean hard to love in practical ways. 

The child argues with me about EVERYTHING... although I realize this is a parenting flaw for not nipping this thing  in the bud, just feel for me right now.  He would live off of junk from dawn to midnight, which he thinks is an appropriate bedtime for a child of 9.  He would try to enter college (only to play football), without even an elementary graduation, because in his mind school is pointless.  His expectation for a large portion of his day is to eat crap and sit in front of any screen.   He moves from the couch in front of the TV, to my phone, where he checks IG (not his), fantasy FB, and  the upcoming schedule of every sport know to man.  After he's had his fill of the phone, it's "mom can I play the xbox?"  No matter how long he's been in front of any of those screens, he has a conniption every time he is told to get off.  God forbid I told him no in the first place. 

Now lest I make him out to be all bad, he is the life of our house.  He is laughter and fun.  Always up for a party and making people laugh.  He's always dancing and singing.  His eyes twinkle with hidden magic and he crushes me in his hugs daily.  He's the first one of my children to say "I love you, mom."  And when he actually does like what I do or say, he is equally expressive about his excitement. 

I feel bipolar throughout the day, because when he's happy with me I'm the best mom EVER, and when he's not I'm the worst.  But the funny thing to me is it's ALWAYS what's good for him or what is best for him that he doesn't like.  All the things he's upset with me about are actually all the things that are good for him...

Educating him, feeding him veggies, limiting his screen time and junk food, making him do chores and all the other horrible things I force upon him, are actually the times when I'm loving him.  Love is an action.  It's doing what's best for the other person.   It's only when I'm fed up with him and not liking him very much, that I throw my hand up in the air and say, "do whatever you want to do."  It's at that point that I've stopped caring. 

After a particularly hard school day this week I escaped outside to my patio and threw my prayers up to heaven, feeling defeated and frustrated, I asked "why, what, how"  Why?  What do I do about it?  How do I turn this ship around? 

Sadly, as I sat in that chair pounding on heaven's door, feeling sorry for myself...  I heard the faint whisper...  he is just like you. 

OH MY GOSH...  He is JUST LIKE ME.  When my life is exactly the way I want it... I praise God.  He is wonderful and amazing and wise and faithful.   BUT, when I don't like what's going on in my life or he says "no" or if I have to wait or if I can't make sense of my circumstances, hell hath no fury like Angela, not pleased. 

I want everything the way I want it.  Forget the fact that I am not the all-powerful, all-knowing, commander of my own destiny...  Half the time I don't want to get out of bed and I can't function unless I've had 3 cups of coffee and sometimes the simplest things in life get me down.  Forget that I would live off diet coke and chocolate.   Forget that I would utterly destroy my life, if given half the chance.  Forget that all I want is happiness and entertainment and parties...  I still think I'm wiser than God and better able to  determine what I need in life, and if he get's in the way of what I've decided I want, I pout, cry, whine, and throw fits.  I am hard to love and I would never have recognized it, if I didn't see it in my hard to love child. 

Thankfully, my heavenly Father is NOT like me at all.  He says, "no power in  heaven or hell can separate me from his love.  Nothing I do will exasperate him so much that he throws his hands up and checks out on me.   He loves me enough to not let me have my way and for that I am undone.  As much trouble as I give him, and he keeps right on doing what's best for me, whether I like him for it or not. 

His love is beyond my understanding.  His faithfulness endures forever.  His mercy is new everyday.  His ways better than our ways.  His thoughts higher than our thoughts.  Today...  I want to believe all this and trust Him to know better than I do. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Soak in...

I have a little garden...  It's not much, because I'm not much of a gardener.  I like to watch things grow, but I'm not very good at making them grow.  I guess I'm what you could call a "lazy gardener".  I want to throw the seeds in the ground and watch as they spring to life, but there's more to producing fruit than that.  You have to prep the soil, water regularly, fertilize and prune.  You can't just ignore your garden and think it's going to produce. 

My first attempt this year ended in me pulling all my dead plants out and starting again.  Not enough water and no soil prep left me with a box full of tiny sprouts, that never matured, their growth was stunted. 

After ripping everything out and throwing the useless plants in the compost, I prepped my soil and soaked it thoroughly, buried the new seeds and waited.  The little seeds sprouted right on time and started growing beautifully.  I was so excited about my little plants and I couldn't wait to taste their fresh from the garden fruit.  Those little plants grew big pretty leaves, stretched out across the garden box and overflowed their borders, but didn't produce any fruit.

One day my brother was over and looking out across the yard, seeing all that green life overflowing the boxes he asked how my little garden was doing.  I told him it was growing, but not producing, so he went to take a closer look.  He told me I wasn't watering enough and giving more water would solve my problem. 

Because I'm a lazy gardener I had just been using our sprinkler system to water my garden.  My hose wouldn't reach across the yard where my boxes were, so I just turned on the nearest sprinklers, expecting that to be enough, but that wasn't working.  The sprinkler sprayed mist in to the air and wet the leaves, but did nothing to actually water the plants.  They were thirsty for a deep, root level soak. 

I attached another hose to the one that wouldn't reach and started giving my little plants the soak they needed, setting the hose right down by the roots, so they could soak up all the life giving water.  What do you know?  Those little babies started giving me fruit.  I  was so surprised to find full sized cucumbers hidden beneath those green leaves. 

Last night, sitting out back on my patio, looking at my garden, I pondered this truth.  A sprinkle doesn't do much for the soul.  A sprinkle may be enough to keep a soul alive, but it's a deep root level soak that makes a soul thrive. 

The last few years I have been in a dry wasteland of loneliness.  Surrounding by people, but alone none the less.  I've been angry with God and blaming him for my loneliness.  Feeling like I was invisible and unworthy of being seen, I lashed out at the only One, who could really see me.  I denied him my love and affection.  I refused the offer of His presence, because I wanted flesh and blood.  I wanted a person to see me and know me, to understand and desire me.  My deepest longing for companionship was an idol to me.  Wanting people became the alter I laid my life on.

If my truest longing is intimacy (to be known and to know), then people are like my water sprinkler...  they can offer me just enough to keep me alive.  My Creator is the water flowing from my hose, close to the roots of the plant, giving us the ability to thrive and produce life. 

The last few years the whisper of God to my soul has been... I see you, I know you, I love you, I want you.  In the book of Hosea, the Word paints a picture of an adulterous bride seeking love in all the wrong places and a husband who leads her into the wilderness alone, so that he can woo her.  He desires to show her His love is superior to all others.  He disentangles her from every other distraction, until He has her complete and undivided attention and then He lavishes her with his extravagant love. 

It's a beautiful story that I go back to repeatedly...  Hosea 2:20 is the whole Bible wrapped up in one verse...  "I will even betroth you to me in faithfulness and YOU WILL KNOW THE LORD." 

You will KNOW the Lord is repeated throughout scripture.  That word KNOW means intimacy. To know and be known.  We were created for this purpose, to KNOW the Creator.  He made us for Him.  Col 1:16 "...were created by Him AND FOR HIM." 

When God created Adam and Eve it was for a relationship.  We see the evidence of that in Genesis when it says he came to walk with them in the cool of the day.  When sin destroyed that possibility God set a plan in motion to restore that relationship, through His son Jesus Christ.  The Father of Heaven is ever about restoring intimacy with His children.  He will go to any length to do that. 

Soaking in this truth down deep in my soul is doing something in my heart.  Where there was longing and ache and need there is peace.  Where there is brokenness and loneliness, His truth is healing.  When I yearn to be known and loved and understood and desired, He speaks softly to my soul that My Creator sees me, knows me, loves me.  He gets me.  He knows who I am and He loves me. 

When God was promising a savior He called him "Immanuel", which means God with us.  Jesus came down to be with us.  He came to show us who God is.  He came to rid of us of this idea that we are puppets set to perform for this far away deity, who can't be known or understood. 

God wanted to be known, just like I do.  God wanted to be understood, just like I do.  God wanted to restore what was lost and broken... our relationship with our Creator. 

Last night, as I sat looking at my garden...  I felt a little lonely.  I wanted to reach out to a human, but I realized that really wasn't what my soul needed.  That little need was really a symptom of being disconnected from my life line.  So, I turned to him and poured my ache out on Him and He poured that life giving water down deep to my roots.  As I soaked in His love, my ache receded. 

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her heart." Hosea 2:14

I'm not going to lie to you.  I wish that I wouldn't have to experience this.  I would prefer to be surrounded by people and I might be perfectly content to never truly know God, but He will not allow me to continue to try to satisfy myself that way. 

Even though the road has been painful I'm learning to be thankful for the ache... It is the only thing that can draw me closer to the lover of my soul.  It is my greatest gift. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Legit Needs.

Two million people wandering around in the desert...  men, women, young and old, children and babies.  Leaving Egypt behind, taking only what they could carry on their backs.  The Lord had told them to be ready to leave fast.  They were to prepare the Passover meal and eat it standing up, shoes on their feet in expectation for their coming deliverance. 

I know what it takes to feed my family. Four growing boys never stop eating.  Just thinking about leaving everything you've known and setting out on a journey through the wilderness, with just what I could carry and my seven member family would be an act of faith that I would miserably fail.  It gives me hives just thinking about it. 

Even after crossing the Red Sea on dry land the Israelites struggle to understand this God they have newly entered into a relationship with.  He promises His presence with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He has performed countless miracles on their behalf and yet...

It's been three days since they saw the water split in two and they walked on the DRY sea floor.  Three days since they saw the water topple back down, onto Pharaoh's army and drown their enemy.  Three days since they sang and danced and rejoiced and praised the power of the One True God. 

Three days that they have travelled with over 2 million people and not seen a drop of water.  That is a legit need.  People can't live without water.  They finally find a spot called "Marah", but the water was too bitter to drink.  So, they do what they do best...  cry, complain, whine.  They turn to Moses and say, "What are we going to drink?" 

I totally get it.  That's my first reaction to any little inconvenience in my life... so I know I would have been one of the complainers.  I would have been right at the front of the line blaming Moses and this invisible God for bringing me out here in the desert to die.  I would have been the one to forget all the times I had seen things that were impossible.  I would have been the one to say, "Look, God can't even provide drinking water." 

I say I believe that He created the Universe, but at the first hint of trouble in my life, my words and actions reveal what my heart truly believes...  That God can't or won't meet my needs.   I say I believe that He is powerful, able to do the impossible, that He knows me and sees my situation.  I say I believe that He is my Heavenly Father and He will take care of me, but my actions and my mouth reveal my lack of trust and faith. 

BUT Moses cried out to the Lord and the Lord showed him a tree.  When Moses threw the tree in the water, the water became drinkable.  OKAY WHAT???? 

Here is the difference between me and Moses...  I would be like "God, this is such a bad plan.  I mean this is so not going to work."  But Moses just does what God told him to do.  Moses believed that God was able.  He believed that God would and that God could and because he believed, he asked.  Moses knew this situation WAS NOT proof that God didn't care or that God wasn't paying attention or that God had forgotten their needs.  Moses saw this situation as a chance to see what God would do.  He knew his needs were the very place that God wanted to reveal himself, his character and his nature.  So, Moses took his needs to God and God answered with the impossible. 

Moses didn't question God's crazy plan.  He didn't try to come up with a plan that would make more sense.  He KNEW he didn't have the answers and he depended on God. 

Every step of the way Yahweh was trying to teach them about Himself.  Every new obstacle was an opportunity to learn more about Him.  Every trial was a test of what they really believed.  Every miracle, proof that He is able, powerful, good, and faithful. 

Yahweh was revealing His character through His actions... and He is doing the same thing in my life. 

Jesus said, "Your Father in Heaven knows that you have needs (food, drink, clothing).  But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matt 6:33

Your needs are legit, but they are not proof that God doesn't care...  they are the places where we are drawn closer to Him and able to see how awesome He truly is.  Our needs are the catalyst for our relationship with God.  Relationship FIRST.  Like any earthly parent wants to meet their children's needs, He longs to meet ours and draw us closer to Him in the process. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wasted Worry.

"But mommy I need you to stay with me, I'm scared."  Followed by a long list of "what ifs"...  What if someone comes in my room, what if ghosts are real, what if I have a bad dream, what if I can't find you.  All of these concerns coming from a three old with eyelids too heavy to stay open.  So, last night I stayed by his bed, until he was all the way asleep.   And guess what???  None of that happened.  He fell asleep and slept peacefully through the night, waking up to the sun shining through his window.   All that worry, over nothing. 

Easy for me to call his childish fears silly, but what about mine?  I just spent the last few weeks worrying about VBS and how it was going to fit in my life.  How would I have time to decorate and how could I accomplish what I wanted to do without help?  What would I do with my little guys so they wouldn't be in my way?  What about this, what about that.  And every step of the way God met me there with help he already provided.  

Yesterday was the first day of VBS and I worried that my room was still not done and that I had left a mess the day before to clean up, but I was running a little late and so I started to panic that I wouldn't have time to get it done...  when we finally got through traffic and made it to the church I rushed upstairs to my room and found it perfectly in order.  Two little angels had cleaned it all up for me.  Worry wasted.

I worried that my 3 year old would have a hard time going to his class and staying there for 3 hours, even though his sister was one of the helpers.  I imagined him crying his way through the week.  I imagined trying to teach my class with him hanging on my hip.  I imagined  him refusing to go and then having to worry about what to do with him all week.  He's having a great time even though he hasn't left my side in church ever without crying the whole time.  Wasted worry.

I worry about money, I worry about my kids and their future, I worry about screwing them up and sending them to counseling, I worry about food, I worry about the people I love dying, I worry about what people think about me, I just worry.   So much of the time my worry is completely wasted. 

When I'm reading Exodus and I see God leading his people out of Egypt, I see me.  They panic EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. they face an obstacle.  They have just witnessed God destroy the greatest nation on the face of the earth with 10 severe plagues, all while being supernaturally protected, and Egypt's mighty Pharaoh beg them to leave, as his people throw gold and jewelry and other valuables at them and Oh, how they praise the Lord.  Until they are standing at the Red Sea with Pharaoh's army breathing down their neck...  and then it's all "Moses, why did you bring us out here?   Are we just gonna die in the wilderness?  Why didn't we just stay as slaves in the Egypt where it WAS BETTER FOR US?"  

OK WHAT???  You just prayed for 400 years to be freed from slavery.  What???  God just demonstrated HIS awesome power on your behalf and the greatest king on Earth was humbled so completely that he just set a nation of slaves FREE.   Why are you freaking out?  

We know the story...  Moses prays the water splits, they walk through ON DRY LAND, the army follows and the waves crash down on them drowning Pharaoh's army.   NOW WHAT?  Surely, Israel, you will never doubt again?  Nope!  Time after time they freak out and Moses prays and God provides. 

Even though I read through Exodus shaking my head, I can't judge the Israelites.  I do the same thing.  I've seen God do stuff only He could do.  I've prayed and He's answered.  There has never been a time when I have prayed, taking my worry to the Lord, that He did not provide an answer.   There have been lots of times that I have worried about stuff that never happened.  There have been many times I worried and fretted and tried to figure out things on my own, making my situation worse.  BUT, there has never been a time that I prayed and God didn't answer. 

I look back on the last few weeks I wasted worrying and I wish I could take all that back.  I wish I would have rested in knowing that my God is good and He's got all this.  I wish I would have remembered all the times He has moved mountains for me, but I didn't.  VBS was just my little worry, I had some much bigger worries and He worked those out too, leaving me awestruck once again that the God who created all that I see, knows my name and sees my situation and He is working on my behalf. 

In Paul's letters to the church, he begins by saying, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father."  That word grace means "unmerited favor" but it can also have the idea of God's "stored up help" for his people in times of trouble.   The word peace also can refer to many forms of peace, and one of those being "tranquility of mind that frees the Christian from fear and anxiety."   Paul wanted to remind his audience that the All powerful  Creator was their Father and they had no reason to fear or be anxious. 

Psalms 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very (abundantly available) present help in trouble."

vs 10 "Be still and know that I am God." 

The same God who parted the Red Sea and humbled an Egyptian Pharaoh is the same God, who wants to help you.  I say wants to help you, because it's up to you!  Do you want help?  Ask... Jesus said you have to ask believing...  sometimes I ask, but I struggle to believe.  Confess that unbelief.  I prayed this last week for a BIG miracle and I didn't see any way that my prayer could be answered, but My Father in heaven already had the answer...  He was just waiting for me to pray! 

"Be anxious for NOTHING; but in everything BY PRAYER and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the PEACE OF GOD, which passes understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Phil. 4:6-7

The whole Bible is one long story of humans having a problem (sin) and without hope and God sending the answer through Jesus Christ, his son, to fix our problem...  IF God would go to such lengths to help his people overcome their eternal problem, why would He withhold his help in our little problems? 

What are you wasting worry on this week?  Take it the your Helper, He's already working it out!

Monday, June 26, 2017


It started like any other affair...  I was mad, hurt and disappointed so I turned to something else to make me happy.   I wanted some excitement in my life.  Something forbidden.  Something new and different.  

I remember the exact second I turned away from my first love.  I was laying in bed marinating in disappointment.  Meditating on how he had let me down... AGAIN.  He never seems to give me what I want.  Oh yeah, he loves me.  I've never doubted that.  He gives me good things...  My life is overflowing with evidence of HIS faithfulness.  Oh, He's good, faithful, true.  He's dependable, reliable.  He would never do to me, what I always do to him.  He loves me...  this I know. 

Even so, I lay in that bed soaking in my misery, a prime candidate for temptation, my rebellious thoughts turning decidedly wicked.  That little devil on my shoulder whispering in my ear, "no one has to know".   It could be my little secret.  It took less than a second to reach for my kindle and search for something to read that would give me the excitement I was craving.  What started as a moment of weakness turned  to addiction.  I knew it would...  I've been there before.  This time was different.   I have a relationship with God and I know him well enough to know that He would not share.  He calls himself "Jealous God" for a reason. 

It's been over a month since I have opened my Bible.  If you know me, you know that no matter how my life is going- I read my Bible daily.   I read my Bible daily, because I know me and I am scared to death of me without a relationship with Jesus.  I read my Bible and pray for sheer survival.   I know who I am apart from God, and that terrifies me. 

Every morning when I would normally grab my coffee and head out to the patio and read God's Word, I would instead pick up an entirely different kind of book.  I would ignore the nudge of the lover of my soul.  I would reject his promise of real love and instead gorge myself on the world's definition of love.  A romanticized version of love. 

It didn't take long for me to start seeing the affects of the affair.  Adultery takes.  It never gives.  Hiding, sneaking.  Addicted, consuming, but never filled.  Soon my confidence faltered and my insecurity began to suck me under.  I started comparing my life to the fairytales I was reading and becoming more unhappy, until my nose hardly left a book.  Whole days consumed with imaginary friends who's lives were more interesting than mine. 

The still small voice of my true love calling me home, over and over.  As I would go through the motions of bedtime prayers with my children, I hoped they couldn't see it was all empty words, because I knew I couldn't actually speak to God.  He knew.  He knew how I had been spending my time.  He knew the mental images conjured up by the words on those pages.  He knew the hunger of my soul.  He would confront me every night and ask when I would pray for real?  When would I walk away from my lover and return to him?  When would I admit I was empty, broken and longing for my true love?  But I resisted and ran right back to my lover. 

Artificial love can never truly compete with real love...  Love is patient, love is kind.  Love gives, love heals.  Love knows what I really NEED and offers it until I give in.  Love satisfies, fills, renews, restores.  As much as I tried to ignore His constant pursuit and His pleading to return...  My broken heart was no match for his dogged pursuit.  He pulled me back to him.  He spoke endlessly to my needy soul, of his healing love.  

I came home broken, he healed.   Empty, He filled.  His faithfulness bolstering my confidence.  The darkness washed away by the overpowering radiance of his love. 

"Therefore, I am going to persuade her, lead her to the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her....  In that day this is the Lord's declaration, you will call me, 'My husband,' and no longer 'My Master'"...   Hosea  2:14 & 16

The Lord spoke these words over his unfaithful bride Israel, after she has continually betrayed him, by playing the whore with other gods.  In the midst of her infidelity God promises to be a faithful husband to her.  To love her, to pursue her, to speak comfortably to her.  Real love heals. 

My devotion is fickle.  My love for God is selfish.  I want him to be a god that I can manipulate, but then he would be weak.  I want him to let me do what I want, but He refuses to allow me to ruin my life.  I want excitement, He offers security.  I want adventure, He offers stability.  I want independence, but even I know that's the last thing I need. 

I am Israel...  Unfaithful...  I am Israel...  I am LOVED. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

When Wills Collide.

I thought about opening with a cute story about my kids being rebellious...  Lord knows I have a million, but I decided instead to share my struggle with God's will.   It started about 8 years ago. 

I grew up a typical American girl, with big dreams.  I knew what I wanted out of life.  I spent hours daydreaming about what my life would be like, when I was an adult and could make my own decisions.  I lived for the time that I could make my own way and do what I wanted, believing that doing what you wanted, was the key to happiness. 

I remember when I was in the 6th grade and my best and only real friend, made a book out of construction paper with pictures cut from magazines... her idea of what my life might look like.  Cute, successful, professional husband, adorable children (2 of course), nice fancy car and obviously a gorgeous house, lavishly decorated.  The American Dream clipped out of fashion mags.  That was all I wanted out of life.  Those pics represented true happiness. 

After becoming a Christian at 19, I just transferred my American Dream to my Christian life.  Wouldn't God want me to have all that?  Wouldn't he want me to be HAPPY?  So, I went about making that Christian-American Dream happen.  In the beginning, it all worked flawlessly.  God answered my prayers and brought a wonderful man into my life, who happened to be handsome, professional and successful.  Check.  God and I were on the same page.  Next up...  We bought a house and new cars and started filling them up with children...check.  The Lord out did himself there... we had to get a bigger house and bigger cars to fit all those little blessings. 

The glorious future stretched out in front of us and I was blissfully happy.  Life only became more satisfying when my husband was asked to be the leader of the Youth Group at our church.  We were overwhelmed that God would honor us with the position since we had no experience.  That position did something for this mess of a girl.  I wanted more than anything in this world to be "somebody" and this was the chance.  I could be married to one of the leaders of our church.  I could be important.  I could be seen.  This was proof that I had left that messy, teenage girl behind.  I wasn't her anymore.

I didn't recognize any of this until many years later, but the day we were no longer in that position I began a decade long war against the will of God.  If this was the will of God, he could mind his own business.   This was the beginning of a season of taking.  He began to take things from me, that I thought I couldn't live without.  He took my importance (in my mind), he took the position, he took my validation.  Not long after, he took my mom, who died of cancer at 52.  He took lifelong friendships, he took family members and moved them far away.  The more he took the less I trusted.  To be honest, there were times that if he would have let me go, I would have left and not looked back.  Like a rebellious teenager, who runs away from home, I wanted out from under his oppressive will.  I wanted freedom to make my own way.  Instead, I pretended.  I didn't run away, I stayed.  I pouted.  I cried.  I raged against God for being unfair.  I silently rebelled and rejected his authority. 

Like my preteen daughter, who obeys just enough, with her barely concealed anger and thoughts about how little her parents really know.  I thought that I knew better and longed for God to submit to my will, but He's God...  He doesn't bend. 

I didn't get God.  In my mind, God was a genie in a bottle, who granted all my wishes.  I had forsaken the true God at some point and constructed a god in my own image.  A god who would bow to my will, a god, who would give me what I wanted.  There was no place in my Christian-American dream for a God, who had his own ideas. 

It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I began to see the truth of the situation.  I was at a women's conference at our church and I had been struggling against God for so long and I couldn't figure out why I had no joy, no peace.  Why?  I had so much to be happy about.  IF happiness came through having what you want...  I should be happy.  I have the husband, I have the kids, I have the house, I have the car.  WHY, can't I be happy. 

How convenient the topic of the day was about joy! Woot woot...  another lesson on something I knew deep down I would NEVER experience.  I have been a Christian for 20 years and I've been deliriously happy and in the valleys of depression and every other emotion in between, but never have I experienced JOY. 

As the speaker preached her heart out that day, I realized that my thinking had been jacked up for a very looooooooooong time.  As she expounded on words I had read a million times the truth became clear for the first time. 

I had always wondered how Paul, who basically endured hell on earth for Jesus, could say things like "Rejoice, in the Lord. Again I say Rejoice."  He must be a special kind of crazy, because I just haven't been able to get there.  If you look at Paul's life before and after Christ you can plainly see how deciding to follow Jesus had been a demotion.  His life was filled with trouble... and all because He couldn't shut up about how great Jesus was.   Stoning, beating, jail, prison... nothing would keep this guy from telling anyone he came in contact with about the Savior and what did he get in return...  more abuse. 

What did Paul get that I don't???  Well, first of all, he got Jesus.

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who existing in the very form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity.  And when he had come as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death- even death on the cross." Phil. 2:5-8

Jesus, who was God, left glory behind to be a man... not just any man, but servant (WHICH IS REALLY MEANS SLAVE).   Being obedient to the Father, submitting to God's will, UNTO DEATH.

We don't really understand this concept, but let me tell you a little of what I have learned in the last few weeks...  Slaves HAD NO RIGHTS.  The were purchased by the owner of an estate, who was the Father.  The slave assumed the name of the Father/Owner and became his property.  Slaves did not speak to the master unless they were spoken to and their standard response would have been, "Yes, Lord, your will be done."

Sounds familiar.  Isn't that exactly what Jesus said in the garden?  Didn't he plead for this cup to be removed.  Didn't he beg the Father for another way, but then submit to the will of the Father and say "Not my will, but thine be done."

Paul, said this is the example that we should follow.  Paul, in every letter, written in the Bible, calls himself the servant (slave) of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  The reason that Paul could have joy is because he understood that He was a slave.  He was a servant.  Wherever and whatever situation he found himself was the will of God for his life.  He submitted to the sovereignty of God.  Sovereign is just a fancy word to say that God is in control.  Paul said the craziest things like, I am content in whatever state I'm in or I can do all things through Christ.  He KNEW that God was in control and he need not worry himself with details.  He knew that God was going to supply all of his needs.  He knew that he was a slave and the only right response was "Yes, Lord, your will be done."

Paul also knew that He had been working his whole life to achieve righteousness (a right standing with God) and that He couldn't.  He was OVERWHELMED to learn that Jesus had done for him, what he could never do for himself. 

Paul had spent his life trying to keep those 633 laws and failing everyday.   I know for myself I can't even keep the first one.  He had to continue to make sacrifices for sin that he could never conquer.  He KNEW the value of the price that had been paid for him.  He knew with every fiber of his being how good being truly forgiven by God's GRACE had set him free. 

Paul could not keep his mouth shut about what Jesus had accomplished on the cross and he knew that every place that God took him was an opportunity to share that Good News with whoever would listen.  NOTHING could get him down.  He recognized that God was worthy to have his will in Paul's life. 

Not only did Paul get Jesus and understand his right standing as a slave to Christ, Paul rejoiced in his position.  He was adopted into the family of God.  He was heir with Jesus of all the promises of the Father.

In Jesus day, the Father of the family or the Patriarch, was the leader of his clan.  Everyone in the family was under the authority of the Patriarch, even grown sons.  This was not an arbitrary position...  The Father had all the responsibility for the family.  He made all the decisions, but he was also expected to provide and protect his family.  The Father was expected to do what was best for the family.  As we all know that did not always happen, but when Jesus spoke of his Father in heaven, this is what he had in mind, a perfect Father, who put his families best interest first. 

When Jesus talked to the people about God, he always referred to God as, the Father.  Paul understood that Jesus was telling us that we could trust our Heavenly Father to do what is best for us.  Paul need not worry about anything... that was his Father's job. 

We live in very different times, but God has not changed.  He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.  His ways are not our ways.  His thoughts are not our thoughts.  This side of heaven we may never understand the WHYS of God, but we can trust the will of God, because we know that as our Father, he has our best interest at heart.  As Master of our lives our only response can be "Not my will, but thine." 

When wills collide, whose will do you choose?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Soul Food.

Each one of them had their own unique reaction to the food in the pot.  My 8 year old  laid out in the middle of the kitchen floor, hands over his tear-filled eyes, devastated because I made roast for dinner.  The 11 year old walked in picked up the lid, looked in, looked around to see if there was another option and then just walked out of the kitchen.  The 6 year old sat at the table whining and forcing a couple of spoonfuls in his mouth, knowing that if he made it through a couple bites he would be able to fill up on his usual before bed yogurt.  The 3 year old just looks in his bowl and says, "This looks bisgusting." 

Funny, Two hours before they had nothing but praise for me when I stopped at Sonic to surprise them with Ice Cream Sundaes.  Oh, yeah then it was all "you're the best mom ever". 

Maybe if it had just been one of them complaining I wouldn't have lost my cool.  I've never in my life cleaned a kitchen so fast.  I put up every bit of evidence that there had ever been food.  Slamming doors and dishes and hiding the pot of roast, where they wouldn't think to look for it.  Knowing full well those two ungrateful boys would come in starving in an hour, looking for the very thing they had disdained earlier.  Guess what...  Exactly one hour later, when all friends had gone in for the night, they bust through the door looking for... roast.  What they found instead was a spotless kitchen.  Kitchen CLOSED.  That's right!  Nothing. 

I've never seen more despondent children.  The man-child was hurting the most.  He knew there was no way he could make it til morning without food.  Did he apologize?  NO.  He just sat there with his private thoughts.  To full of pride to admit that he was wrong and sorry and hungry. 

I was angry with him...  but ready to forgive.  I didn't like the way he acted, but I didn't really want him to suffer.  I wanted to give him a good, nutritious dinner.  I always want to give him good things.  I love him. 

There are times that we must suffer.  There are times that we don't know how good we have it, until we lose it.  You don't know what you've got til it's gone.  
Well, Dad gave them a good lecture and told them they needed to apologize.  He reminded them that they should NEVER treat the person, who does everything for them like that.  And they did.  And ecause, I couldn't bear the thought of them going to bed without eating, I offered them that still warm roast. 

From the living room I could hear the sounds of contentment, of boys enjoying good food.  All the sudden, what looked terrible before was now amazing.  

I know you know where I'm going with this...  I am just like my kids.  Give me the "good" stuff Lord.  Make me happy.  Give me ice cream and candy, but you can keep the roast. 

My perspective of "good" stuff is skewed though.  Like my kids who think of junk food as good and roast as bad...  I think of the things that I want, as good.  I have no desire for things that might be good for me, if it looks anything like roast and carrots and potatoes. 

Food that will make me grow and become strong, has no value to me.  Take my new favorite verse for example:

"It is GOOD for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn your statutes." Psalm 119:71

Affliction is suffering and we don't want that.  We want as far away from affliction as we can get, but maybe our perspective is all wrong.  David said it was GOOD that God had afflicted him. 

Look at Moses perspective "By faith Moses, when he came of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; CHOOSING rather to SUFFER affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. 

Moses left the riches and majesty and glory of being royalty in the Egyptian court, to be afflicted with the people of God. 

Paul, who suffered much for Jesus, wrote frequently in his letters to the churches about his sufferings had this to say, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS, being made conformable unto his death." Phil 3:10

Paul knew that the only way he was going to be made more like Jesus was through suffering.  Every thing He once counted gain, he now counted as loss.  He knew that the only truly "good" thing in his life was JESUS. 

I'm not there.  I look in the pot and I look around, to see if there is a better option and then I walk out.  Sometimes, I throw myself down on the floor, put my hands over my tear-filled eyes and refuse to eat.  Sometimes, I just eat enough...  hoping that the little I've done will please God and he will then give me some dessert.  Sometimes, I flat out say, "This is bisgusting."

That's when I need an attitude adjustment.  My perspective needs a little altering... 

Jesus, in the garden, before his death, pleaded with God to allow this cup of suffering to pass from him and yet he said, "Not my will, but thine."  He understands that there are things you don't want to go through.  He's been there.  He endured "Good Friday" for us.  He drank from the cup of suffering for us.   He is our example...  Not my will, but thine.

Today, if you are suffering, believe it's for the good.  There is purpose in your pain.  Read your Bible.  Believe the promises that God is working ALL things for good.  Trust that Jesus has not forsaken you. 
Paul was sitting in jail, not knowing what was going to happen to him, singing praise to God.  The earth quakes and the chains break.   He could escape if he wanted to.  The jailor, who was in charge, thought that everyone had escaped and was ready to kill himself.  Paul calls out to him that everyone was there and accounted for and because of that act of surrender, to the sovereign will of God in his life, he was able to lead the jailor and all of his household to Christ.

Paul realized that wherever God had him, it was for the GLORY of God and the furtherance of the gospel...  The same is true for you today.  Whatever you are facing today.  Every storm, every trial, every hurt is all an opportunity to reveal Christ in your life. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hurts so good.

This has been a tough season.  Soccer that is.  Nothing hurts worse than playing your heart out and losing another game.   No doubt to his 8 year old brain, he's convinced he will never win another game.   He has natural talent and for the last four years his team has won more games than they have lost.  He's flown around the field like an airplane after scoring many goals.  He's pumped his fist and he has high-fived his team, feeling the glory of victory many times in his short soccer history. 

This year it's different.  Not many goals.  Far less fist pumps and high fives.  Much more disappointment.  Much more soul searching.  Less confidence in his ability.  Less joy in the game.  It hurts to lose again and again.

Last night, in the first few minutes of the game, it was obvious this would be another defeat.  I sent up a silent prayer, asking for wisdom.  How do I encourage my little boy after another sound defeat?  When there's not a whole lot of good to speak off... what do you say? 

As we walked to the car, side by side, I knew the important thing was not winning, not scored goals...  but that he has learned something this year that's far more valuable...  This year has taught him to keep fighting, no matter how far down you are.  This year has taught him to keep kicking, no matter how many goals you miss.  It's taught him that life doesn't always feel good.  You don't always win.

Sometimes, you have long, sucky seasons, but you don't give up.  You play hard the whole game.  You don't hang your head when you get down a few goals.  You keep trying.  Most importantly, LOSING WON'T KILL YOU.

David in Psalms says, "I KNOW, O LORD, that your judgments are right, and that you in FAITHFULNESS have afflicted me."  Psalm 119:75

"It is GOOD that I have been afflicted; that I might learn your statutes." Psalm 119:71

affliction- to distress with mental or bodily pain; trouble greatly.  to overthrow, to humble.,

Good to be in pain?  Good to hurt.  How could this be? 

Like my soccer player, I was used to winning.  Life came pretty easy to me.  I had everything I could ever want...  My Husband, my love.  My children.  Family.  Friends.  In the beginning, it all came so freely, I never had to work for anything.  I knew that the face of God was shining down on me. However, one day that changed.  I still had all the good things in my life, but I didn't feel like I was winning anymore.  Life was hard.  My relationships brought me no joy.   I was lonely.  An intense loneliness that ate away at my soul.  No matter how hard I tried I couldn't find in any human what I so desperately longed for.  This season lasted a few years and I thought I was just destined to be filled with this lonely ache forever.  I cried.  I was depressed.  I was hopeless. 

Finally, one day I started praying.  Instead of blaming God for ruining my life, I started asking Why?  What was the purpose.  What was he trying to show me.  What was I missing.  Instead of believing myself unworthy, I decided to trust that God had a plan. 

That's when things started to change...  He began to speak softly to my soul about how much I was truly loved- by HIM.  How valuable I am- to HIM.  Others can never, ever truly love me the way God can.  Even the love of a cherished spouse can not fulfill the aching longing in my soul for connection with God. 

He had to get me alone to speak softly to my soul and heal my deepest hurts.  When others didn't want me... He did.  When I was lonely...  He was by side.  When I was hurting... He was there to comfort me.  When I could share my secret thoughts with no one...  He already knew them. 

I NEEDED to be completely alone with God.  I needed to know that my worth and value was not in what other people thought about me.  I needed to know that no matter who forsakes me...  Jesus never will. 

I had gone hard after other lovers...  I cared more about what people thought about me, than what He said in His word about me.  I wanted human affection, validation, and love, more than my Creator's, but they could never satisfy my soul. 

I LOVE these verses in Hosea, because they speak perfectly to my season of loneliness...

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her heart." Hosea 2:14

He called me to the wilderness to speak comfort to my soul.  He afflicted me with loneliness, not to destroy me, but to heal me.  His words of peace and love have soothed the old wounds.  The feelings of being unworthy, replaced by the sure knowledge that the One who created me desires me.  He is my beloved and I am His.

These words were spoken by the prophet Isaiah to Israel, but I claim them as my own...

"But now this is what the Lord who created you says...He that formed you,...'Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; YOU ARE MINE." 

"Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you..." Isaiah 43:4

There is no love that can compare to the love of God.  I'm thankful for this season in my life.  I have peace that I didn't have before.  I know now that no matter what happens in my life...  Jesus is with me.  Nothing can separate me from His love.  I am his and he is mine.

I don't know what kind of season you are in, but I know that there is purpose for our pain.  Sometimes, we need to be broken to be healed.  Sometimes we need to have a losing season to learn valuable lessons you don't learn from victory. 

We need to know that it's not how many goals we score that makes us important.  It's not winning that gives us worth.  When your name isn't being shouted.  When your head hangs low in defeat.... you can learn the most important lessons.  You are loved because He is good.  You are valuable because He created you.  You can press on and give all you have, even if you are losing.  You will NOT die... no matter how much it hurts.

I'm thankful for this losing season...  It hurts so good.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Call my name.

Mom.  Moomm.  MOOOMMMMMMM!!!! 
I want you.

Mom.  Momm. MOMMMMMMM!!!
I need you.

Standing at the kitchen sink with dishes piled high, hands up to my elbows in suds, mind lost in thoughts of a day that has already worn me out and it's only 8 am.  The dishes from the night before are crusted over with dried food, because I had no energy left last night to wash them...  The day stretches out in front of me like Mt. Everest.   Before I can start today, I have to finish yesterday.  I'm tired and overwhelmed. 

In the backdrop I hear his little voice calling my name.  Sweetly at first and then more persistent.  He stands at my feet and pulls on my pants leg.  He used to having to call me over and over again.  Still lost in my own thoughts, but aware that someone wants something from me, I haven't made the connection yet that I need to respond.  That's when the inevitable happens...  he screams my name.  That does it.  That pulls me completely out of my thoughts and right into anger...  WHY are you screaming my name????  He just looks at me with the sweetest face and says, "I want you." 

To be honest...  I don't want to be wanted.  I'm tired of being wanted.  In fact I've been tired for 13 years.  I'm busy.  I need to get stuff done.  I'm angry and frustrated...  always.  I don't want to hold you.  I don't want to listen to one more story about super-heros.  You know what I want????  I want a self-cleaning house.  I want kids who don't whine.  I want a dog who requires absolutely no attention.  I want to be left alone.  I want to read all day.  I want to sit on the patio and not have someone ask me for another thing.  That's what I want.  But, he wants me and he needs me and so do the other 4 children that God has so graciously blessed me with.

I dried my wet hands, bent down and wrapped my arms around him, soaking up his beautiful love.  In that moment I could see just how deep and wide the difference from my response to my children and the Father's response to his. 

My favorite person in the Bible is David.  He was a shepherd boy, who was chosen by God to become King of Israel.  God himself called David a man after God's own heart.  David's most beautiful quality was that no matter what was going on in his life his first response was to call upon the name of the Lord.  David was a good man and a bad man.  We was a good king, but he was also incredibly selfish and self-centered at times.  David is famous for many things, adultery and murder being two of them.

David knew one thing...  He needed the Lord.  In the good times, he praised God. In the bad times, he sought God's wisdom.  He prayed for forgiveness for his sins, rescue from his enemies, and most of all comfort.  He wrote a good portion of the book of Psalms, which is filled with beautiful imagery of a man in close communion with his God. 

Look what he said about calling to the Lord:

"Because he (God) has turned his ear to me, I will call out to him as long as I live." Psalm 116:2

"For you, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, abounding in faithful love to all who call upon you. Lord, hear my prayer; listen to my plea for mercy.  I will call on you in the day of distress, FOR YOU WILL ANSWER ME." Psalm 86:5-7

"Call on me in the day of trouble; I will rescue you, and you will honor me." Psalm 50:15

and this promise spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

"And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."  Isaiah 65:24

Before they call I will answer them. 

Jesus said, "Come unto me, all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest."

If you are like me these verses feel a little foreign, meant for someone else, not you.  Meant for someone important, like David.  The problem is we compare an invisible God with people we can see.  Like busy, tired mothers, who dread our call, instead of relish in it.  But, God says He is not like us.  His ways are not our ways.  He is passed our understanding and we can't compare God to imperfect flawed humanity. 

God delights in our call.  In the beginning of the Bible we see the true heart of the Father, as he came in the cool of the day, to walk the length and depth of the beautiful garden, with the cherished man and woman he had created.  He delighted in Adam and Eve.  He delights in you. 

The Father draws near to all those who call on him, in truth.  He bends his ear.  He stops whatever he is doing.  He is never too busy.  He is never far away.  He doesn't grow weary. 

My heart goes out to many of my friends who are in painful seasons right now.  Some are hanging on to hope with the tiniest thread.  They don't feel worthy to call out to God.  They feel like my little guy felt... like God isn't listening.  God is not like us. 

One last incredible promise from God's word...  "I AM sought by those who did not ask; I was found by those who did not seek me.  I said, 'Here I am, Here I am..." Isaiah 65:1

Today, call out to him, "I need you".  Call his name and he will say, "Here I am."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

You can do it.

Learning to read is HARD.  Teaching someone to learn to read is hard, especially if your student needs everything to be phonetically correct.  Rules that are only rules sometimes boggle little minds.   Sitting at the table watching my little guy struggle and give in to defeat is hard.  I wish is wasn't so hard for him, but it is just that.. HARD.  It's been a real challenge for this particular child.  I'm not sure why.  I'm sure I could have him diagnosed with something, but that would just solidify in his mind that he can't do it.  He would be even more aware that he is a little bit... different. 

The words on the page look totally unfamiliar.  There's no memory recall of having read them before, so he must go through all the rules he knows until he has the right one and then begin to sound out the word again.  He's read them all before, but for him it's just a little harder. 

His little eyes fill with tears and his head hangs real low.  "I can't do it, it's just too hard."  Around this mountain we go again.  Him defeated and mom trying to encourage him.  I know something he doesn't remember right now...  He's read them all before.  He can do this. 

Most days he will keep pressing forward.  I love that about him.  He never gives up, but today he is tired.  We stayed up on a school night, watching a movie together and he woke up extra early.  He's weary and he's whiny.  He really believes he can't do this.

I know how he feels.  I tell him so.  I know that he feels like it's too hard and he wants to give up.  I feel that way some days too.  I tell him that school makes me cry a lot.  But then I tell him I know he can do it.  I tell him how proud I am that he keeps trying even when he wants to give up.  I tell him I know it's hard, but he's improving every day. 

Soon his eyes dry up and his smile returns and he sounds out that word that he got stuck on and he laughs because he really has read that one before.  He presses on and after that book is finished he feels so good about what he accomplished.  He feels happy that he didn't give up and really happy about that little reward he earned for persevering.   Most of all, he's learning that you don't have to listen to your doubts and fears.

I see Paul sitting in prison, writing a letter of encouragement to the church of Philippi...  Paul who has served the Lord with all of his strength.  Paul who has given his whole life to the cause of Christ, sitting in prison awaiting an uncertain fate, writing to the church and telling them to keep on going.  Paul who has experienced MANY hard and  unfair trials and temptations...  stoning, snake bite, ship wreck, just to name a few, and yet telling them that He fixes his eyes on Jesus.  Telling them that he has learned that "I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength."  Telling them to "REJOICE IN THE LORD."  To meditate on things that are true, lovely and praiseworthy.

How could Paul say all of that?  I would be saying:

"Lord, what are you doing?"
"Why are you making me go through this?"
"This is toooooo hard."
"I can't do this."

Yet, Paul claims he can do all things with God's strength.  I'm sure that didn't come naturally...  Look at verses 11 "... for I have LEARNED, in whatever state I'm in to be content."  After many times of seeing God work through hard situations he had learned to trust God.  Paul had seen the hand of God in so many impossible situations and He knew that God was working everything out for His glory.  Everything, good and bad.  EVERYTHING.  He had figured out that with Jesus, he could do it.  He could face Rome and death.  He could face hardship.  He could face loss.  Nothing was too hard for him to go through with Jesus by his side.

I don't know what you are going through today.  Some of my friends are going through fierce storms and they see no end in sight, worse still, the storm is obscuring their view of God...  but you can do this.  He is still there.  He is bigger than all the pain, hurt, confusion, and agony of your current situation.  He will bring you through this and when he does you will be a little stronger than before.  You will marvel at what you were able to overcome with Jesus. 

Don't give up...  You can do this.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Just Be Quiet.

We're on our way to an Easter get together at the lake with family.  The kids are excited.  They know they are going to have fun and get candy, but unfortunately we made a wrong turn and it took us exactly 7 minutes longer to get to our destination.  7 minutes of whining.  7 minutes of when are we going to get there!? 7 minutes of "who's fault is it that we took a wrong turn?"  7 minutes of parent torture.  It's enough to make you turn around and yell the "sh" word at your kids.   I would never do that...  Well.

Ever been there?  Of course you have.  It's the form of torture that makes you never want to go on a trip again.  Imagine 40 years of that.  40 years of complaining, whining, moaning, grumbling...  Oh my gosh how draining. 

It's no small wonder to me that God, after enduring this for 40 years, while his children roamed in the desert, would immediately tell them to "zip it" as they came into the Promised Land.  

After crossing over the Jordan, God instructed Joshua to besiege the city of Jericho.  Jericho was an ancient city with a impenetrable wall, so thick in fact that houses and shops were built into the wall.  The people of Jericho had long trusted in the security of their defenses, believing no enemy could ever overcome that wall.  The wall of Jericho had a reputation in the whole region of being totally indestructible. 

The children of Israel were desert wanderers.  They were not skilled and trained in the art of warfare.  The stories of them defeating fierce enemies on the other side of Jericho were confounding all the inhabitants of Canaan.  How were they conquering, vanquishing and defeating such strong enemies.  Of all the people who thought them inferior none were more convinced than the children of Israel themselves.  In fact the previous generation had all died in the wilderness, never seeing the Promised Land because of their lack of faith.

As Joshua shares the plan laid out to him by God I can imagine the shocked murmur that spread through crowd.  As men and women looked around and shook their heads at the insanity of what Joshua was commanding them to do. 

"We shall march around the city, all the men of war; you shall go around the city once.  This you will do for 6 days.  And the seven priests will bear 7 trumpets of rams horns before the ark.  On the seventh day you will march around the city 7 times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets." Joshua6:3-4

Now Joshua commanded the people, saying, "You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, UNTIL the day I say to you, 'SHOUT!", then you shall shout."  Joshua 6:10

I'm not a real smart person or super spiritual so my theory on this is that after one round of marching around the city someone would have started in about how stupid this plan is.  Then someone else would say, "this isn't the way I would do it."  Then another person would chime in about "Who does this Joshua think he is anyway."  You would definitely have heard, "Are we there yet?"  and "He touched me." 

Before all that complaining could take place God through Joshua nipped that right in the bud...  "Do not make a sound."  OH man I wish that would work for my kids. 

Really though I want that to work for me.  I want to stop second guessing God.  I want to stop thinking I have a better way.  I want to just be quiet and know that God is God and I am not.  I'm not the all powerful, all knowing, all wise God of the universe so what do I know really?

Sometimes, my life seems impossible to me.  Sometimes being mom and wife and teacher feels impossible.  Sometimes when I look at my life I see massive walls that seem like they will never come down.  I see obstacles that seem too big to overcome.  I see giants to numerous to defeat.  I forget that I have seen water's parted.  I forget about water out of a rock and manna from heaven.  I forget about all the other miraculous things I've see God do and I get discouraged.  I lose my faith.  I give up hope and then I complain.  I complain to a friend or 10.  I convince myself that all this is too hard for me.  Instead of sharing my faith in a God who is able, I share my doubt and my fear and that spreads like wildfire. 

That day the Israelites were commanded to keep their mouths shut and march.  Do what you were told to do and WATCH YOUR GOD WORK.  

Just Show up.  Show up and march.  Just do it. 

It's not about how big you are.  It's about how big God is.  It's not about what you are capable of.  It's about what the God who formed the Universe is capable of.  Thick walls are nothing before the Creator.  Giants are like ants to God.  There is nothing that is impossible with God. 

I love that He told them to do 2 things they were capable of doing...  Being quiet and marching.  The task before them was impossible, but they were asked to do 2 things.   Trust God enough to do the impossible.  Imagine the shock and wonder of all the people that day...  The children of Israel outside the wall and the people of Jericho inside the wall as brick by brick it began to tumble to the ground. 

I don't know what you are facing today...  It may seem like a impenetrable wall in your life.  You may be facing giants, but if this story is true, what does it speak to your walls and giants? 

Be still and know.  Be quiet.  Keep marching.  Wait in silence for God to topple those walls.  Watch and see what the God of limitless power can do.  All of this was for one purpose...  To display the glory and power of the One True God.  What is God going to use in your life to reveal himself? 

Let's stop looking at our mountains and start looking above them to the One who is able to do exceedingly more than we could ever have imagined on our own... and all without our help!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A walk in my shoes.

I made my 12 year old daughter sweep the kitchen floor yesterday.  She hates to sweep.  Honestly there are not many chores that she likes to do.  Welcome to my world kid.  She swept up a nasty pile of crumbs, dirt, dead grass and who knows what else and asked, "How does this happen everyday?"  That was just from lunch...  It has to be done every meal or you won't be able to take a step without squishing cold, soggy oat meal between your toes.   Before children I may have swept my kitchen once every three months... I had no idea how good I had it.

This afternoon after school was over and it was time to do chores, with dishes piled in the sink, toys all over the floor and laundry to wash, dry and put away that same 12 year old girl surprised me by saying, "Ugh, the floor's a mess again... you want me to sweep?"  Not instead of other chores, but along with what she was already going to do.  After she was done she said, "Man, this floor could use a mop."  She didn't offer to do that, butttttt she noticed. 

I know you know the feeling of never being done with housework and wondering IF anyone notices what you have done OR what still needs to be done, because one thing is for certain it is NEVER done.  She noticed.  She offered help.  WHY?  Because yesterday after sweeping the floor and thinking about what a great job she had done, she experienced the frustration of seeing that very same job needing to be done AGAIN.  She felt empathy for mom...  She took a walk in my shoes, she experienced what I have to go through and it moved her to want to help. 

There have been many times in my life that I have been asked to do something I didn't want to do.  I have pouted and whined... to no avail.  My Heavenly Father is always teaching me new lessons in this life.  Some for training.  Some lessons to teach me empathy.  None that I actually willingly agree to...  just being honest.

For instance, my recent past history with anxiety and depression.  I didn't want to go through that.  I have always been a happy person, who wakes up everyday with fresh perspective, but I couldn't seem to make myself be that person.  In the past I couldn't care less what people thought about me, but suddenly I didn't want to leave my house, because I was consumed with anxiety about people.  I hated that.  Thankfully, God's faithful hand is leading me through that murky place and on the other side I have much more empathy and compassion for people who are in that place...  sometimes you can't just snap out of it.  I didn't know that until I had been there.

Right now I'm in another place I really didn't want to be.  My 6 year old has to go on a gluten-free diet.  Yep, I've joined that fad.  I'm not sure what I will learn yet, but I already feel compassion for people who can't eat everything that they want, all the time without adverse reactions in their body...  I never even thought about how that would be for my friends who were struggling with family members that have food allergies, but here we are.  I'd rather not.

Or a struggling marriage, finances, wayward children...  When we go through these things we learn, we grow, we become more compassionate.  For every hard thing we experience we add one more layer of walking in another's shoes.  We grow.  We look around and say, "how can I help you?" 

I'm watching this happen in my older children.   The things they don't want to do, the chores that I require of them are developing in them empathy and compassion, the sense that this life is not all about them.  There are other people and those other people have a lot on their plate and these kids have a desire to help where they can.

Last week when my husband was away on a business trip the two oldest children took it upon themselves to clean the backyard and the patio.  They cleaned out the flower beds and filled 3 huge, black trash bags with old, dead bushes.  They moved patio furniture and swept, cleaned tables and put it all back together nicely.  I didn't ask them to do any of this.  They are learning to look around and offer a hand.  That's a lesson a person can only learn from experience.

So, right now I don't know what you are going through...  IF you are like me there are things that you wish you didn't have to do.  You may wish everything could be different right now, but God knows what we need.  He knows that we would never willingly grow or change or even care what the people around us are going through, therefore He provides opportunities to learn and tough situations to teach us how best to love the people around us.

"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort that we ourselves are comforted of God."  2 Cor. 1:3-4

From now on that girl can no longer be oblivious to smashed scrambles eggs on the floor.  She may not always choose to lend a hand, but she will know a little bit more about what is means to walk in my shoes... 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Happy Sappy Birthday.

So, it's my man's bday.  You know that has me thinking about him.  How great he is and how much I love him.  He's pretty darn terrific...  I like him, I think he likes me.  I made it official by posting about him on FB.  He is my #1, my best bud and I am so thankful that he is my baby daddy...  but that's just part of the story... How can I still be happy with this guy after 14 years? 

Is it because he's perfect?  Nah.  Is it because I'm perfect?  Well, maybe.   HAHA.  Is it because we just have flawless chemistry that keeps us madly in love?  Does he do things that make me crazy?  Yes.  Do I do things that drive him nutty?  Of course.  Is he prince charming?  Am I Cinderella?  Has this been "happy ever after"?  No.

It's been good, it's been bad.  It's been easy, it's been hard.  It's been close, it's been lonely...  and that was all this week.  There are times we have strayed apart, there have been times when I've been bitter.  There has been hurt, but there has been healing.  There has been disillusionment and then there was light. 

We have been students, not teachers.  We don't have it all together.  I don't profess to be a marriage scholar, but I would like to share a few truths I've picked up along the way...  Lasting love is not about feelings.  Lasting love is about making a choice to put the other person first.

Focus on the positive.  Keep at the forefront of your mind why you married this person.  The world will remind you every day that your spouse doesn't measure up.  The world is offering a mirage of perfection that can never be attained.  There is no perfect person, no perfect relationship.  There are two imperfectly flawed humans merging into ONE. 

"But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female.  For this cause shall a man leave his Father and Mother, and cleave to his wife; And then they are no more two, but ONE flesh." Jesus, Mark 10:6-8

My husband and I are opposites in most everything, but crazily after 14 years we are starting to understand each other more and more.  In the beginning I could only see my way...  My way was always best.  If only I could make him see how much better my way was.  I didn't take into consideration that his thoughts and insights could help me see a situation more fully and completely.  Take discipline for example...  I am a control freak.  I want things done the way I want them done, when I want them done... or there is hell to pay.  My man on the other hand is more merciful.  He wants to get to the heart of the situation and is willing to give second chances.  I'm learning from him that I can chill out and give my kids a break and everything is going to be ok.  There are times that we must discipline, but now we can do it together and both feel like we are making the right decision. 

I've come to appreciate our differences and consider them more valuable than the things we have in common.  He has offered me a new way of seeing the world, and I'm a better person for that.   Two=One.

What about the times when we don't see eye to eye and I cannot bend?  I pray.  God listens.  He speaks to the heart without motive or condemnation.  When my heart is burdened by something that needs to be said or done, I am...

"Anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication WITH thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God.  And the peace that passes understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  Phil. 4:6-7

You see sometimes the way we see things is blurred by things we can't see.  It's so much easier to see what another person is doing wrong and sometimes we are blinded by our own sinful heart.  I am learning to never confront my husband in the moment.  I know I need to take my heart and hurt to God, allow him to search my heart and make it right before I bring my heart to my man. 

We have to communicate in our relationships, but I try to apply this verse before I do...

"A soft answer turns away wrath: BUT harsh words stir up anger." Prov. 15:1

I know in this day and time what I'm about to say is backwards and outdated, but it's my favorite verse in the Bible pertaining to the marriage relationship and I claim this promise in my life and I have seen miracles in times that I thought were hopeless. 

"Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if they obey not the word, they may without a word (from us) be won by the conduct of their wives;..... But let the hidden (woman of your heart),... the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."  I Peter 3:1-4

Look I know what you're thinking...  I just took us back 100 years.  Listen to me before you fire that shot.  I'm just as much a modern woman as you.   I'm NOT saying get in the kitchen and be barefoot and pregnant and let the king rule the castle.  I'm just like you...  I'm a woman with a lot of opinions.  I'm NOT quiet.  In fact I'm the loudest person in this house.  What I'm talking about here is that God made men with a certain quality that can not be ignored...  They need R.E.S.P.E.C.T... 

Having a meek and quiet spirit means that I trust God so completely that nothing my husband can do or not do can make me afraid.  I can trust that God has this.   When I know that God is in control I can let go of control.  I can talk and walk and treat my husband with respect.  I don't have to belittle or condemn or judge.  I don't have to worry or be anxious about the decisions he makes, because I have a relationship with the One who can change his mind, if that's what needs to be changed.  Because sometimes it's not him that needs a change and if I leave room for God to work in our marriage then I don't have to clean up the messes that I might otherwise make. 

Is any of this easy?  You know the answer to that.  I believe that lasting love is best accomplished when you first fall in love with the One who never changes, never fails, never leaves or forsakes.  When we are loved by and in love with a perfect, grace-filled, mercy-full God, then we can love like he loves and we can trust Him with the rest. 

So, Happy Sappy bday to my best friend, my road dog, my baby daddy...  The FB pics tell a story of lasting love and friendship, but the back drop is the real focus...  A good, good Father put two very different people together and made them One...  What God has put together, let no man put asunder. 

Let our marriages reflect this verse:

"This is a great mystery: but I am speaking concerning Christ and the church."  Eph.5:32

Husband and Wife is supposed to paint a glorious picture of Christ and his bride... What lessons have you picked up along the way that help the world see our Savior through your marriage?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Control Freak

Hi, my name is Angela and I like control.  I want everything my way.  I think my way is best and I will stop at nothing to have things my way.  I am in DA...  Dictator's Anonymous.   I had to seek out help because I was ruining my kids. 

My one goal in life was to raise some really great kids.  My strategy was to control every aspect of their lives.  When they slipped out of my control the consequence was punishment, guilt trips and condemnation. 

A few years ago I started to notice how this was beginning to take a real toll on my daughter.  She had no confidence and felt like she could do nothing right.  She began to lie about little things that meant nothing.  She was plucking her eye lashes and eye brows.  My beautiful flower was wilting under the hot sun of my scrutiny.  She didn't measure up. 

I was devastated to see what I had done to my child.  I started to see how she wasn't the only who was showing signs of living with too much stress, but in all honesty I didn't know how to change the situation.  I thought I was right.  I thought being hard on them would bring about my desired results.  I started reading every parenting book I could find and there were so many conflicting theories out there.  I was really confused.  One week I would try this method and another day I would try that method.  My children were confused as well.  There was no consistency and with my moody nature it was impossible for them to predict what I would do in any given situation.

Finally, I started praying for some wisdom, because God has always answered my prayers before and in James it says, "ask for wisdom and He will give it to us liberally." 

I'm not going to say I have figured anything out or that I have become the perfect parent, but God did begin to show me a few things from His Word.  It was like he had shone a little light on all the places his Father heart was revealed to us in scripture.   I could see from His Word how different He is from me.  I could see the contrast between how He treats his children and how I treat mine. 

"The Lord is gracious, and FULL of compassion (he feels what we feel); SLOW TO ANGER, and of great mercy.  The Lord is good to all and his TENDER MERCIES are over all his works." Psalms 145:8-9

As a dictator I was none of these things.  I was often angry and cruel.  My anger was like a light switch...  but in this verse I could see that God was slow to anger and had great mercy.  Well, I knew that He had been that way with me (his child), why couldn't I be that way with my children?  There is a real answer to that question.  Fear.  Fear controlled me and I used it to control my children.   I feared that if I didn't control everything, then they would do something that would make me look bad as a parent.   Oh and tender, yeah right.  I didn't know how to be tender.  

I LOVE this definition of tender- easily moved to sympathy or compassion...  God understands that we are weak and therefore he is tender with us. 

Mercy- compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an OFFENDER, an enemy, or other person in one's power. 

IF God is tender and merciful toward us...  WHY should we be any different with our children and notice that these words are used WHEN we do something wrong or we are enemies.

Look at John 3:17 "For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved."

What does condemn mean- to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; INDICATE STRONG DISAPPROVAL of.

Don't get me wrong.  The Bible says that God disciplines those he loves and He will correct our behavior, but HE NEVER CONDEMNS. 

Another definition for condemn- to declare incurable.

I believe that I was declaring my children incurable.  I was speaking death into their lives.  Let me give you an example between discipline and condemnation.

This morning one of my sons whirled around in the kitchen, arms swinging wide, and knocked over a glass of orange juice.

I wanted to scream and cry and say "NOT AGAIN, WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THAT." and then maybe tell him his punishment was to NEVER COME IN THE KITCHEN AGAIN.  Kidding/not kidding.   That is condemnation.   That makes kids discouraged.  Discouragement is losing courage.  Losing life.  This is how a dictator would respond.

Instead, I turned away and cried inside, opened a drawer and handed him a towel to clean up his mess.  His discipline was to clean up after himself.  He felt badly enough that he had spilled the orange juice.  I didn't need to beat him down about it. 

Discipline is a word that we associate with punishment, but discipline is really training. 

Discipline - activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.

Training our children is a must.  God trains us.  He teaches us his ways.  Sometimes the consequences for our actions or for theirs is painful and pain is a good instructor, but our treatment should always be in love and never in condemnation. 

"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and LONG-SUFFERING; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" Rom. 2:4

It is in fact the goodness of God that makes me want to do the right thing.  My nature LOVES to do the wrong thing.  I'm not going to lie.  I am not pure in heart.  I can identify strongly with the lyrics of the One Republic song "Counting Stars":

I feel something so right
Doing the wrong thing
I couldn't lie, couldn't lie, couldn't lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.

I have a couple children who are just like me.  They love to do the wrong thing.   I have to remember that God's goodness and forbearance and patience with me  keep me coming back to him.  It's His mercy that makes me love him and want to follow him.  How I would benefit from dealing with my own children the way He deals with me.

Listen to what Paul says,

"If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but DO NOT HAVE LOVE, I AM NOTING." I Cor 13:1-1-2

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love does not envy
Love does not boast
Love is not rude
It does not insist on it's own way
It is not irritable or resentful;

Being a parent like my heavenly Father does not come naturally to me.   I have to die to myself, to my nature.  To truly love my children I have to let go of my need to control everything.  This is not easy.  That's why it's called death...  It hurts.

I'm not an authority on anything, especially parenting, but I do have an inside track on learning about Amazing Grace...  I've done it all wrong and I've have had to learn more from mistakes than anything else, but God has always been good to me.  He's always drawn me back in his arms with tender mercy and understanding and acceptance!  That's the kind of parent I want to be.

Hello, my name is Angela and I'm letting go of the control.